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Beats' picks: Will Duke football get back in the win column at Miami?

Duke meets Miami on the road Saturday.
Duke meets Miami on the road Saturday.

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. After falling at home in a rivalry thriller to North Carolina, Duke looks to get back in the win column Saturday at 12:30 p.m. with a road matchup at Miami:

Jonathan Levitan: Duke 21-19

In the past two seasons alone, the Blue Devils have been outscored 95-10 by the Hurricanes. Simply put, this matchup has not been competitive for years, but with new leadership on either sideline and a pair of fairly confusing starts to the season, Saturday is anybody's game, even if oddsmakers have pegged Miami as a 10-point home favorite at Hard Rock Stadium.

At the risk of oversimplifying things, the close ones seem to be getting closer to flipping in Duke's favor after it suffered another crushing loss to North Carolina. The Blue Devils are knocking on the door; the Hurricanes seem to be holding onto what remains of their preseason status by a thread. I will side with the team moving in the right direction—but it will come down to the final few minutes.

Micah Hurewitz: Duke 24-17

The Blue Devils’ losing streak is ending here. After ranking Miami around the top 10–and picking this matchup as Duke’s worst loss—before the season kicked off, it is beginning to look a bit like this Hurricanes team will not be living up to the lofty preseason expectations. Injuries and a few close games have surely hurt head coach Mario Cristobal’s squad as it sits at 3-3 halfway through the season. The Tyler Van Dyke offense has been less than amazing, and that is something that Duke may be able to take advantage of having already been through the offensive juggernaut of North Carolina. Sophomore quarterback Riley Leonard could have Jaylen Coleman back in the backfield and an offense hungry to get back in the win column in south Florida—this may be the best opportunity for a signature win and get the Blue Devils one win closer to bowl eligibility. Upset incoming.

Sasha Richie: Duke 31-24

I just have a hunch. When Miami took on Virginia Tech last weekend, the 20-14 outcome was likely a lot closer than the Hurricanes would have liked taking on the bottom-ranked team in the conference. Miami has enough of the pieces, including a deep receiving corps, a serviceable defense and a quarterback hitting his stride, but it hasn’t convincingly put those pieces together yet this season under the direction of Cristobal. Maybe that mirrors Duke’s situation, and it is understandable to be wary of the team’s ability to close out tough games. But the Blue Devils, heading into a bye week, are at a crossroads. They can either prove they can get it done in the face of adversity, or lose their third straight game and make bowl eligibility that much harder. Duke hasn’t passed this test in recent seasons, but this year feels different. All throughout, Elko, Leonard and the rest of the team have shown they never take their foot off the gas, and I believe this is the game where they will finally cross the finish line.

Andrew Long: Miami 35-28

Here are two interesting stats: 14 points separate Duke from 4-3 and 7-0, and it has lost every game in which it conceded more than 30 points. While the former can be seen as an encouraging sign that it stays in close games, it is also an indictment of the Blue Devils’ inability to close. With one leaky secondary facing off against another Saturday, this game has all the makings of a shootout, and both the Kansas and North Carolina games give me shaky-at-best confidence that another such contest will head Duke’s way. If the Hurricanes and Van Dyke rain down passes and torch the defense with their rapid receivers like I think they will, it will be hard for the Blue Devils to stop—even if the offense has a good day. Duke may yet prove me wrong, but until I see it last five rounds in the ring, I’m hesitant to believe that it can.

Rachael Kaplan: Miami 30-27

This one is going to be interesting. Duke is coming off of two consecutive ACC losses, both of which were emotionally draining. How its matchup with Miami will go is largely dependent on how it bounces back: Have the past two weeks taken too much out of the Blue Devils, or will they use the losses as motivation and come out firing? While I do think the latter is more likely, it will not be enough. The Hurricanes just got back into the win column after dropping three straight, including a three-point loss of their own to North Carolina in which Van Dyke threw for 496 yards. Duke has struggled closing out close games, and if it is able to keep this one tight into the fourth quarter, I would not start betting on the Blue Devils to come in clutch now. 

Franck Djidjeu: Duke 28-24

Duke is coming off of back-to-back losses for the first time this season and it is starting to look like a grim repeat of last year with a strong start followed by a quick drop. I do not, however, believe that history will repeat itself. The truth is in the margins of losses. The Blue Devils have a total point differential of +74, the best in the ACC Coastal Division. Their three losses have only been by a combined 14 points. They are better than their record suggests and I think it will show against Miami. The Hurricanes do have the second-ranked passing attack in the ACC, but a lot of it is due to the fact that they throw more than any other team. Van Duke is no Jalon Daniels or Drake Maye, and if Duke is able to minimize big plays and lean on its strong running game, it can avoid a three-game losing streak heading into its bye.

Season records:

Levitan: 4-3

Hurewitz: 5-2

Richie: 4-3

Long: 5-2

Kaplan: 5-2

Djidjeu: 3-4

Sasha Richie | Sports Managing Editor

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

Rachael Kaplan | Assistant Blue Zone Editor

Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle’s 118th volume.

Andrew Long | Blue Zone editor

Andrew Long is a Trinity sophomore and Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.


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