Beats' picks: Will Duke football start the 2021 season with a win against Charlotte?

Senior wide receiver Jake Bobo will have to fill the void left by tight end Noah Gray, especially on third down.
Senior wide receiver Jake Bobo will have to fill the void left by tight end Noah Gray, especially on third down.

Every football game, our beat writers Cam Polo, Jake Piazza, Max Rego, Alex Jackson, Micah Hurewitz and Jonathan Levitan will be here to give you their picks for Duke's upcoming matchup, and we'll keep track of their prediction records every week. First off, Duke has Charlotte on the road at 7 p.m. Friday, where the Blue Devils are favored by 6.5 points. 

Jake: Duke 31-24

I don’t expect this to be an overly pretty football game, but no one said a ‘W’ on the opening weekend had to be. There’s several new starters in Duke’s lineups so there’s going to be mishaps, and I expect Charlotte to put points on the board behind the seasoned presence of fifth-year quarterback Chris Reynolds. Give me a signature Mataeo Durant rushing performance, sprinkle in an efficient game from quarterback Gunnar Holmberg capped off with his first collegiate passing touchdown (I’m thinking it lands in the hands of Jake Bobo), and we’re going to see Duke come out victorious. 

Max: Duke 31-17

Friday night on the road week one could lead to some fluky stuff happening, but the Blue Devils are still primed to start things off with a win. Durant should be heavily featured throughout the night, and the 49ers’ will have some trouble with Duke’s hungry secondary. 

Alex: Duke 38-21

I see this game as a very solid season opener for the Blue Devils. I will be looking for Durant to have his way with the 49er defense and put up a nice chunk of the Blue Devil points. It would be nice to see Holmberg exploit a relatively weak defense, but I’m willing to give him a transition period to get adjusted to his new role. The biggest mystery remains how the Duke defense will show up. You’d think they have a significant upper hand versus the Charlotte offense, but you never know with this much turnover. Either way, this will be a good game for Blue Devils to expose their weakness and discover where they need to improve throughout the season.

Micah: Duke 34-14

With a new quarterback at the helm in Holmberg, I’m not too high on Duke exploding for the 53 points they put up against Charlotte last season. Plus, this time the game is on the road, giving Charlotte an advantage in at least one area of the game. However, the Charlotte offense has only lost its 2020 starting running back to the NFL and Reynolds barely connected on half of his passes against a similar looking secondary. Duke pounds the ground and the inexperienced defense still keeps the 49ers in check. 

Jonathan: Duke 33-31

This one is going to be closer than it should be, as the Blue Devils will find themselves up against a re-energized Charlotte squad far different than the team they thrashed on Halloween last fall. I don’t doubt the offense’s ability to put up points against the 49ers, but Reynolds is going to have success against Duke’s young pass rush and meshing defense, making this contest a close one. In the end, talent wins out, and the Blue Devils pass their first test—barely.

Cam: Duke 35-20

Look, I expect Duke to cover here, but the defense is likely to experience growing pains. Expect Holmberg to outdo expectations, taking his three years of backup experience nicely into his first contest starting behind center. Holmberg and Durant should be enough to carry the Blue Devils to a healthy win in week one.

To read up on our preseason coverage of Duke, click here

Max Rego profile
Max Rego

Max Rego is a Trinity senior and an associate sports editor for The Chronicle's 118th volume. He was previously sports managing editor for Volume 117.

Jake C. Piazza

Jake Piazza is a Trinity senior and was sports editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.

Micah Hurewitz

Micah Hurewitz is a Trinity senior and was previously a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.

Jonathan Levitan

Jonathan Levitan is a Trinity senior and was previously sports editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.


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