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Beats' picks: Can Duke football get its first ACC win of the year against Virginia?

Running back Mataeo Durant recorded 24 carries in the first half.
Running back Mataeo Durant recorded 24 carries in the first half.

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. Virginia comes in as a 10.5-point favorite against a Blue Devil team on the road in Charlottesville, Va., in search of its first win. 

Jake Piazza: Virginia 41-31

Virginia wields six receivers with at least 15 catches, and five of them have a minimum of 250 yards. Take your pick with quarterback-turned-receiver Keytaon Thompson, 6-foot-7 tight end Jelani Woods or slot Billy Kemp. Each of them can hurt this struggling Duke secondary. Even though it looks like the Cavaliers' most productive receiver in Dontayvion Wicks is going to be sidelined with a head injury, quarterback Brennan Armstrong is going to survey the field and deliver passes to his elite receiving core on his way to a decisive Virginia win. 

Max Rego: Virginia 45-31

Armstrong against a secondary with a penchant for giving up big plays. Check and mate. The Blue Devils have still not fixed their issues on the back end, and with the Virginia signal caller averaging over 400 yards a night , this may be the toughest challenge yet for Duke’s defensive personnel. While I think Gunnar Holmberg continues his stretch of accuracy and Jalon Calhoun breaks off a chunk gain or two, it won’t be enough for Duke to keep pace.

Alex Jackson: Virginia 35-21 

I’m officially hopping back off the Duke-hype train. Rather embarrassing performances for the Blue Devils in back to back weeks does not give me much confidence that they’ll show out this week. Virginia has four wins on the season, but it came out on top of its last two by less than a field goal. The Cavaliers have proven themselves a capable offense, but their defense is still surrendering significant points. They allowed North Carolina to rush for just under 400 yards in their matchup a few weeks ago, so I see Cutcliffe putting the ball in Mataeo Durant’s hands more than usual, even if the Blue Devils fall behind. The real test for Duke will be how the defense reacts after a score. It won’t be able to keep Virginia off the board, but it has the power to limit the damage.

Jonathan Levitan: Virginia 44-38

Duke’s last two matchups both had shootout potential, and so does this one. The Cavaliers and their elite pass attack match up well with the Blue Devils, but the visitors also should take advantage of Virginia’s league-worst rushing defense. I’m not sure how either team gets too many stops. Grab some popcorn, this could be wild.

Micah Hurewitz: Virginia, 42-24

Duke’s run offense against the worst run defense in the conference. Virginia’s pass offense against Duke’s secondary. Points will be scored, guaranteed. But in this one, the Cavaliers will win out with the deep roster of pass-catchers and one of the best quarterbacks—statistics-wise—in the country. It will have to be another two weeks before Duke has a chance at its first conference win barring a Durant miracle and a performance for the ages from Lummie Young IV, Leonard Johnson and the rest of the secondary.

Cam Polo Virginia 40-24

Look, this one’s gonna be a shootout. Both teams have extremely high-powered offenses, but ultimately, Virginia’s will come out on top. Even another banner performance from Durant wont be enough to outlast the Cavaliers, and the Blue Devils may have some serious reflecting to do after this week.

Piazza: 4-2

Rego: 3-3

Jackson: 2-4

Levitan: 3-3

Hurewitz: 3-3

Polo: 2-4

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 | Sports Managing Editor

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

Jonathan Levitan | Sports Editor

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


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