Beats' picks: Will Duke football stay undefeated in conference at Georgia Tech?

Duke is a short road favorite at Georgia Tech in Saturday afternoon's matchup.
Duke is a short road favorite at Georgia Tech in Saturday afternoon's matchup.

Before every game this season, our football beat writers predict whether the Blue Devils will pick up a win in their weekly matchup and keep track of their records throughout the year. Looking to build off of a home win against Virginia, Duke meets Georgia Tech on the road Saturday at 4 p.m. with a chance for a second-straight ACC win.

Jonathan Levitan: Duke 30-17

Had Georgia Tech done the understandable thing and suffered an unremarkable loss to a top-25 opponent on the road less than a week after the firings of its head coach and athletic director, this prediction would be a fairly simple one. Instead, the Yellow Jackets and interim head coach Brent Key summoned something special and walked away from then-No. 24 Pittsburgh with an inexplicable 26-24 win.

Georgia Tech showed fight, to be sure, but the win shouldn’t move the needle too much ahead of Saturday’s matchup in Atlanta. The Blue Devils, one of two teams ranked in the ACC’s top five in scoring offense and defense, are better on both sides of the ball. It will take two tough halves of football on the road, but Duke will stay undefeated in conference Saturday by a comfortable margin.

Micah Hurewitz: Duke 35-13

Duke is averaging exactly 35 points per game through five games, including its latest win against Virginia. Georgia Tech owns one of the lowest-scoring offenses in the nation. Put the two together and you would guess a blowout, but with the Yellow Jackets' excellent, I mean, stunning win against Pittsburgh, it’s not so certain anymore. Did Key give his players some secret sauce? Was Geoff Collins the problem? Regardless of the answer to those questions, quarterback Jeff Sims will be all over the field and the Blue Devils have to play him like they did Temple’s D’Wan Mathis or Virginia’s Brennan Armstrong. It should be a decent test for Duke, but it seems improbable for Georgia Tech to put together the game it played a week ago. The Blue Devils are headed back home with a chance to clinch a bowl appearance against North Carolina.

Sasha Richie: Duke 31-17

Georgia Tech has some new-found hype after downing the Panthers, but remember, the music video for “Take on Me” had people thinking A-ha was the next Michael Jackson. Thirty-odd years later, we think of A-ha as the ultimate one-hit wonder, and the underlying numbers tell us we should keep the same energy for the Yellow Jackets. This season, they have punted the ball 32 times and scored in some fashion 15 times. Against Pittsburgh, too, for as much relative success as they found on the ground—Sims only threw for 102 yards—they also lost 54 yards rushing and were 5-for-17 on third downs. In short, just because the Panthers were worse that day doesn’t mean Georgia Tech is suddenly good. After all, good teams don’t fire their coaches mid-season. Northwestern, Kansas and even Virginia are all significantly better than the Yellow Jackets this year, and we know how those went for Duke. I don’t expect any of these trends to slow, so look out for the Blue Devils.

Andrew Long: Duke 35-24

Though the Yellow Jackets are fresh off a skyrocketing win against Pittsburgh, there are still too many questions about the program for me to put any confidence in it. Combine that with Duke’s 21-point demolition of Virginia at home and the continued dominance of sophomore quarterback Riley Leonard in the air and on the ground, and I just don’t see anything stopping the Blue Devil train. The possible injury-induced absence of Jaylen Coleman will be a hurdle, but with Jaquez Moore and Jordan Waters in full force and the defense growing as a unit, there’s serious potential for Elko and company to leave the Peach State 5-1.

Rachael Kaplan: Duke 30-24

Georgia Tech shocked the world when it took down Pittsburgh. It racked up 232 rushing yards on its way to the underdog win. Duke had its own triumphant victory, winning its first ACC game in almost two years in its 38-17 rout of Virginia—both teams are on a roll. I think Duke is the superior team in this matchup. Its defense is much improved from the last time these two faced off. It held the Cavaliers to only 93 total rushing yards and if it can slow the Yellow Jackets' ground game, the Blue Devils will have a clear offensive advantage. Leonard has been playing like a seasoned veteran, attacking opposing defenses with both his arm and his legs. If Duke can continue its dominant play, it will cover the spread and move to 2-0 in the ACC. 

Franck Djidjeu: Duke 34-20

Georgia Tech is coming off a high after taking down a ranked conference opponent last week. However, it is likely more of an aberration than an indication of its talent. The Yellow Jackets came into this season expected to be one of the worst teams in the ACC, and they still have yet to prove otherwise. They are bottom-two in the conference in both scoring offense and defense and are last in third- and fourth-down conversions. This is perfect for a Duke team that has struggled to get off the field on third downs. I expect the Blue Devils to avenge their crushing home loss last year by handing Georgia Tech their fourth loss of the season. 

Season records:

Levitan: 3-2

Hurewitz: 4-1

Richie: 3-2

Long: 4-1

Kaplan: 4-1

Djidjeu: 3-2

Sasha Richie profile
Sasha Richie | Sports Managing Editor

Sasha Richie is a Trinity senior and a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th 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.

Rachael Kaplan profile
Rachael Kaplan | Sports Managing Editor

Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity junior and sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.

Andrew Long profile
Andrew Long | Sports Editor

Andrew Long is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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