Duke travels to the Steel City Saturday for a matchup against the Pittsburgh Panthers. Ahead of the 12 p.m. game, the Blue Zone has you covered with our can't-miss prop bets:
Duke (+7) vs. Pittsburgh
Although ranked 17th nationally to begin the season, Pittsburgh has disappointed, with upsets by Louisville and Georgia Tech. However, the Panthers have shown flashes of potential at times, including last weekend when they routed Virginia on the road, 37-7.
The Blue Devils have performed consistently since their last-minute defeat to Georgia Tech. Led by dual-threat quarterback Riley Leonard, the second signal caller in Duke history with 10 passing touchdowns and 10 rushing touchdowns in the same season, Duke has had three straight ACC-game wins. Wide receiver Jalon Calhoun has excelled in his role as the playmaker on the outside, allowing Duke to thrive in the passing game, as well as on the ground.
For Duke, the outcome of the game against the Panthers will likely be from the defensive side of the ball. The biggest question for the Blue Devils is whether their defensive unit can hold up Pittsburgh. The Panthers pride themselves on their rushing attack, with star running back Israel Abanikanda averaging 134.1 yards per game, the highest mark in the ACC. Although Duke's rushing defense has had success in recent weeks, it has yet to face a difficult test of this magnitude.
If the Duke front seven can slow Abanikanda, then look for Duke to take home the victory. If not, Leonard and the high-flying Duke offense should still keep the game close enough for Duke to cover.
Pick: Duke +7
Over/Under 49.5 total points
With Abanikanda leading the way, the team ranks 29th nationally in team rushing attempts, and has averaged possession for nearly 34 minutes each game. Although their method bleeds time off the clock, the Panthers remain highly effective, with a 82.4% red zone efficiency, and an average 30 points per contest.
The Blue Devils’ dual-prong attack has racked up a lot of yards and a lot of points this season. Duke averages 419.4 yards per game, fifth in the ACC. Leonard is ranked 46th nationally in completion rate at 64.0%. His accuracy has led Duke to extend drives and get more points. Currently, the Blue Devils average 33.7 points per game.
Duke has surpassed the over in three of its last four contests, while Pitt has reached that margin in two of its last four. In a game in which both offenses have advantages against the opposing defense, expect points to be scored at a high volume.
Pick: Over 49.5
Israel Abanikanda Over/Under 85.5 rushing yards
Abanikanda burst onto the scene this year, intimidating defenses and racking up yards. When on the field, the talented running back breaks tackles and accelerates quickly. The junior from Brooklyn currently has 1,207 yards, eighth most in the nation, including a 320 yard performance against Virginia Tech in October. Abanikanda has exceeded 100 yards rushing in every game except two. Expect Pittsburgh to lean heavily on its rushing attack, even if it falls behind early.
Pick: Over 85.5
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