Beats' picks: Can Duke football take down a slumping Virginia Tech team?

Running back Mataeo Durant has an opportunity for a huge game against a Virginia Tech rush defense that sits at third-worst in the ACC.
Running back Mataeo Durant has an opportunity for a huge game against a Virginia Tech rush defense that sits at third-worst in the ACC.

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. The Blue Devils hit the road for Blacksburg, Virg., this week as 11.5-point underdogs against Virginia Tech.

Jake Piazza: Duke 24-17

I don't expect either teams' starting quarterback to play due to each of their injuries suffered a week ago, and even if they do, neither will be close to 100%. So head coaches Justin Fuente and David Cutcliffe are both going to turn to the run game, and that gives Duke the advantage with star running back Mataeo Durant. I foresee a Durant performance reminiscent of his season opener, and I wouldn't be surprised if the three touchdowns I predict Duke gets all come from him. 

Max Rego: Virginia Tech 31-23

Early in the year, I had chalked this up as a clear cut loss for the Blue Devils, but that was before Virginia Tech’s season started to go off the rails. Hokie head coach Justin Fuente seems to have lost the program, and with Braxton Burmeister’s status still a question mark, this may be Duke’s best shot left at snagging a conference win. Mataeo Durant, facing off against the third-worst run defense in the ACC, should feast, but I just can’t trust this defensive unit to get key stops. 

Alex Jackson: Virginia Tech 24-17

There are so many questions to be answered, especially if Holmberg is not at the helm for Duke this week. A team still searching for its first ACC win playing without their starting quarterback does not bode well for walking out of Lane Stadium with an elusive road victory. It’s apparent that the Hokies have not been much better this year. Their mere three points in last weeks loss to Boston College is the result of abysmal quarterback play, so Duke certainly has some prospect to win, given that Knox Kadum plays to the same degree. At this point in the season, I’ve learned better than to put my faith in the Blue Devils to win when they should. If they are going to compete in this contest however, Durant is going to have to return to his start-of-season self and be the center of Duke’s offense.

Jonathan Levitan: Duke 19-17

Over the course of the last month, the Blue Devils have run into one offensive juggernaut after the next. But with Duke up against Virginia Tech on the road, that trend is set to come to an end Saturday—the Hokies scored just three points last week against Boston College after losing starting quarterback Braxton Burmeister early in the game. It may not be pretty, but coming off of its best offensive performance of the conference slate, Duke should find itself in the perfect spot to earn its first ACC win.

Micah Hurewitz: Virginia Tech 24-20

Regardless of who’s at the helm as quarterback for both the Blue Devils and the Hokies, this one could get interesting. The Blue Devils offense finally showed up last week against Pitt, but the defense was still stuck in the mud when it came to defending the air attack. If Burmeister isn’t a go, Duke has exactly the set up it needs to pull off a road conference win. One problem: we aren’t too sure what Holmberg will play like—or if he will play at all. I’m gonna say Duke has some offensive momentum after last week’s display, but still falls short due to lapses in the defense. 

Cam Polo: Virginia Tech 43-20

Hard to pick the Blue Devils here. Amid a lot of quarterback uncertainty, coming off a bad home loss, it is difficult to imagine that Duke waltzes in to Blacksburg, Va., and emerges with a victory. Durant will have to put up a career performance to keep this one close, but don’t expect the Blue Devil defense to be keeping points off the board in this one.

Piazza: 7-2

Rego: 6-3

Jackson: 5-4

Levitan: 6-3

Hurewitz: 6-3

Polo: 5-4

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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