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Beats' picks: Will Duke football finally win its first game of the season?

Quarterback Chase Brice posted season-highs in yards, completion percentage and passer rating last week against Virginia Tech.
Quarterback Chase Brice posted season-highs in yards, completion percentage and passer rating last week against Virginia Tech.

Prior to each Duke football game, beat writers Evan Kolin, Shane Smith, Jake Piazza, Max Rego and Cam Polo will make their predictions for the contest, and we’ll track their records throughout the season. Here are their takes on the Blue Devils’ road trip to Syracuse, which pits Duke as a one-point favorite.

Evan Kolin: Duke 27-20

For the second consecutive year, I'm going to predict against my preseason "worst loss." Last week, Duke could've easily pulled off the comeback against No. 19 Virginia Tech if it weren't for some untimely Hokie sacks late in the fourth quarter. One of the biggest issues for the Blue Devils has been protecting quarterback Chase Brice, and against an Orange team that ranks a mere 12th in the ACC in sacks per game, I'm expecting an impressive performance from the Clemson transfer that could prove to be a turning point for the season.

Shane Smith: Syracuse: 37-34

The Blue Devils are favored going into Saturday, and while this game seems like a great opportunity to cash in on their first win, I just can’t get over last year’s catastrophe at home. Syracuse’s 49-6 win in 2019 is only part of the reason, as the Orange have turned in relatively competitive matchups with No. 8 North Carolina and Pittsburgh in 2020. We’ll get another chance to see if the Blue Devils and Brice can turn things around, but I expect more growing pains in the Carrier Dome.

Jake Piazza: Duke 27-17

This is the week that Duke gets its first win and turns its season around. Syracuse is riddled with inconsistency and struggles defending the run, and I’m going to be optimistic and say that last week’s fourth quarter marked the beginning of a new chapter for Brice and the Blue Devil rushing attack.

Max Rego: Duke 31-23

Duke seemed to get a rhythm going in the run game last week, a stark improvement from its first three games. Syracuse gives up over 180 rushing yards per contest, and on the other side of the ball, quarterback Tommy DeVito has struggled so far in 2020. I expect the Blue Devils to get in the win column for the first time in this strange season.

Cam Polo: Duke 20-17

I know, I know—the Blue Devils might not deserve this prediction. But Duke is hungry. This is the first time David Cutcliffe has been 0-4 as a head coach, and I can’t imagine he didn’t impress that into his team at practice this week. Brice started to settle in against Virginia Tech, and the running game showed some traction. Don't expect an offensive explosion, but I think Duke puts up just enough points to pull out the win.

Overall results:

Evan Kolin: 2-2

Shane Smith: 3-1

Jake Piazza: 4-0

Max Rego: 2-2

Cam Polo: 3-1

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