After notching one of its most successful records in years, Duke will close out the regular season with a game against in-state foe Wake Forest. Before the Blue Devils host the contest at Wallace Wade Stadium Saturday afternoon, the Blue Zone provides you with our can't-miss prop bets:
Duke (+3.5) vs Wake Forest
Led by a powerful offense, the Demon Deacons are structured very similarly to the Blue Devils. Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman averages 307.4 passing yards per contest, which ranks him 15th nationally. Duke’s passing game has had similar success throughout the last few weeks, including sophomore signal caller Riley Leonard’s 290-yard effort last weekend against Pittsburgh. Barring last weekend, when the Blue Devils only rushed for 63 yards against the Panthers, the Duke ground game has been the most effective part of its offense, averaging 191 yards per contest. However, with Hartman's talent and mastery of the slow mesh offensive system, the Demon Deacons hold the slight edge on offense.
Nevertheless, Wake Forest also has its own defensive woes much like Duke; its defensive unit is ranked 89th in the nation, allowing 401.8 yards per game. Duke’s defense fares a little bit better statistically, ranked 67th in the nation, allowing 377.0 total yards per game. Although the Blue Devils' secondary has struggled against quality ACC passing offenses, the unit held its own last weekend against Pittsburgh, forcing two interceptions and only allowing 190 yards through the air. The secondary's stronger performances since playing Boston College, including its dominant 24-7 victory against Virginia Tech, suggest the Blue Devils hold the edge on defense.
The outcome of the game for Duke will once again be decided on the defensive side, where it will have to limit the unique slow mesh system. If they can, the Blue Devils may keep the ball out of Hartman’s hands, cover the spread and win outright. If they cannot, the team will likely need to score a touchdown on every drive to stay within 3.5 points—a huge task even against a struggling Wake Forest defense. Will Duke be able to stop it? It’s nearly impossible to tell whether head coach and defensive expert Mike Elko has a trick up his sleeve. The game is a coin flip.
Pick: Wake Forest -3.5
Over/Under 66.5 total points
The 66.5-point total seems like a hefty number—the two teams would need to have 10 touchdowns between them to reach the over, without factoring in the extra points. However, even as rivals, Wake Forest and Duke share two commonalities: they allow a ton of points, and score even more. Wake Forest scores 37.4 points per game, the 15th-most in the nation, and allows 28.8 points per game. Duke on the other hand scores 33.0 points per game, the 35th-most in the nation, and allows 22.1 points per game.
In its last five games, Duke has hit the over in four of the contests, including last weekend against Pittsburgh. Although Wake Forest has only hit the over in two out of its last five contests, some of the lines for point totals were extreme, such as a 79-point over/under against North Carolina. In a game ripe for a potential shootout, expect the points to rack up quickly.
Pick: Over 66.5
Jordan Waters over/under 69.5 rushing yards
Redshirt junior running back Jordan Waters has performed well in his starting role for Duke, rushing for 557 yards and eight touchdowns on the year. Averaging 4.8 yards per carry, his explosiveness has kept the Blue Devils on schedule and allowed the play-action pass game to flourish.
Unfortunately for Duke, last weekend against Pittsburgh, Waters had some tough sledding. With the Duke offensive line overmatched against the powerful Panther front seven, Waters only had seven carries for 35 yards. Additionally, a fumble he lost turned into a Pittsburgh touchdown.
Looking to bounce back in the final week of the regular season, Waters should find success against a Wake Forest defense that has struggled to contain the run. Wake Forest's opponents average 139.5 rushing yards per game, and if Waters finds the running lanes, he too will have an excellent day on the ground.
Pick: Over 69.5
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