Beats' picks: Will Duke football or Georgia Tech win this battle of the Coastal?

Quarterback Gunnar Holmberg has a 71.9% completion rate this season.
Quarterback Gunnar Holmberg has a 71.9% completion rate this season.

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. Duke hosts 4.5-point favorite Georgia Tech in a Coastal matchup that could heavily play into who gets a spot in the ACC championship game.

Jake Piazza: Georgia Tech 37-27

Two words—Jeff Sims. Georgia Tech's dual-threat quarterback already had a field day against North Carolina a few weeks ago, and I expect his performance against Duke to be similar. The Blue Devils have struggled with running and mobile quarterbacks all year long. Sims is arguably the best runner of the bunch, and he's a lot better passer than his overall season numbers would indicate. I expect Sims to give a healthy blend of the air raid and ground game along with some timely runs from Jahmyr Gibbs to give the Yellow Jackets the win.

Max Rego: Duke 31-30

Which versions of each team will show up? Georgia Tech is juggling a loss to Northern Illinois and last week’s 52-21 debacle against Pittsburgh along with a 23-point roasting of North Carolina two weeks ago. Sims, while having trouble staying healthy this season, can get it done by land and by air—with a 69.1% completion rate to boot. Neither defense has been very adept at stopping the run, so look for Gibbs to finally have his 2021 breakout and Mataeo Durant to continue his stellar campaign. That being said, I think that this Georgia Tech offensive line, which ranked 123rd according to PFF near the end of last season, struggles to protect Sims from the Blue Devils’ improving pass rush, giving Duke a leg-up on third downs. Holmberg exploits enough of the holes in the Yellow Jacket secondary to provide more balance to the offense, and Durant closes it out with a few late first downs. 

Alex Jackson: Duke 24-21

I foresee Duke finding redemption in this game. Holmberg and the offense are inevitably frustrated after putting up only seven points against a lackluster North Carolina team. The Blue Devils know their defensive capabilities and I think they use this opportunity to step up in front of a home crowd that is dying to see Duke pull off a close victory. Durant is obviously the centerpiece of the Blue Devil offense so everything will work through him. This game will come down to how well Holmberg and Durant can sell the play action and find the open reads deep.

Jonathan Levitan: Duke 30-26

After falling hard to the Tar Heels last Saturday, this week’s matchup suddenly feels like a must win for the Blue Devils ahead of a tough road stretch. Georgia Tech, like Duke, has shown flashes of greatness lessened by inconsistency to this point. These teams feel fairly even, and I like the home team to come out on top to get back in the win column.

Micah Hurewitz: Duke 38-35

The three-game win streak showed Duke a lot to be confident about. The blowout loss against North Carolina gave Duke a lot to work on. Georgia Tech poses an interesting matchup for Duke, as its inconsistent yet high-powered offense could give the Blue Devils trouble and the athletic defense could make for a difficult game for Holmberg to get back in rhythm. This one could swing either way, but a shootout may be upon us.

Cam Polo: Duke 30-14

After a tough loss to North Carolina, head coach David Cutcliffe’s squad will be looking to bounce back at home against a decidedly weaker Georgia Tech team. Look for the offense to get back to its high scoring ways, and the defense to put up exactly the performance the Blue Devils need to get their first ACC win of the fall campaign.

Piazza: 3-2

Rego: 3-2

Jackson: 2-3

Levitan: 3-2

Hurewitz: 3-2

Polo: 2-3

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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