Beats' picks: Will Duke football keep winning streak alive against Virginia Tech?

Duke takes aim at a third-straight win Saturday against Virginia Tech.
Duke takes aim at a third-straight win Saturday against Virginia Tech.

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. With a two-game winning streak to its name, Duke aims for its third straight Saturday at home against Virginia Tech.

Jonathan Levitan: Duke 34-16

Over time, this matchup—one that most of us originally pegged as a winnable game for Duke early in the season—has become an uneven affair, with the Blue Devils nearly double-digit favorites heading in. The question is not whether Duke will win, but how.

The answer remains on the ground with Jordan Waters, Jaquez Moore, Jaylen Coleman (if he returns from injury Saturday) and mobile sophomore quarterback Riley Leonard. The Blue Devils will have to work a bit harder to replicate their running success against the Hokies with a battered offensive line, but the offense has hummed all season for Duke on its home field. After 60 minutes, head coach Mike Elko will move to 4-0 against other first-year head coaches with a comfortable win.

Micah Hurewitz: Duke 42-21

Duke’s offense is rolling—the unit has scored more than 35 points in each of the last three games, and back at home for the first time in almost a month, the Blue Devil faithful will be excited to see its now-bowl-bound Duke team take the field against a struggling Hokies squad. If any conference game was the Blue Devils’ best shot at a win entering this season, it would likely be this one, but here they are aiming to clinch a .500-in-conference record. Leonard is looking as consistent as ever and the run offense has continued dominating opposing defenses. Duke still needs its own defense to strengthen its one-on-one pass coverage to supplement its ability to stymie the run, but big things are possible for the Blue Devils as the season keeps rolling in the right direction for Elko and company.

Sasha Richie: Duke 41-28

For a while there, I kept predicting that Duke’s offense would come back down to Earth and become a solid, serviceable unit. I was so wrong. The Blue Devils have scored fewer than 30 points twice this season in nine games, and they show no signs of taking their foot off the gas. However, pass defense continues to be an issue. In its past two games against Miami and Boston College, both relatively weak teams, Duke gave up 279 and 330 passing yards, respectively. Hokie quarterback Grant Wells, meanwhile, threw for 243 yards two games ago in his team’s one-point loss to then-No. 17 N.C. State, and with a stagnating ground game, the Hokies will look to the air to put points on the board. That could end up being a real problem for the Blue Devils, as it almost was last game, so they could surrender more points than one might expect against a 2-7 team. Still, look for Duke to keep Virginia Tech at an arm’s length and guarantee a .500 ACC record while it’s at it. 

Andrew Long: Duke 38-17

For the first time since 2018, Duke is going bowling. With six wins already and a Virginia Tech team sitting at 2-7 coming to town Saturday afternoon, this feels like a mismatch heavily in the Blue Devils’ favor, and I’m predicting as much. Leonard has not been stellar in the air in recent games but has made up for it with his fantastic ground game, spearheading five-touchdown-or-greater performances in Duke's last two away trips to Miami and Boston College. The defense is rocking on the turnover front and confidence is high. That feels like a recipe for disaster for head coach Brent Pry’s floundering Hokies, and another comfortable win awaits to ensure Duke finishes the season above .500 and continues to impress in the early phases of the Elko era.

Rachael Kaplan: Duke 38-27

Last week against Boston College, Duke was favored by 12.5. While it did ultimately win by seven, its performance was underwhelming. Backup quarterback Emmett Morehead threw for 330 yards and four touchdowns as the Eagles put up 31 points. It was only the third time this season that the Blue Devil defense gave up more than 30 points. The Duke secondary faces a slightly easier task in dismantling the Hokies. Virginia Tech has not hit 30 points in a game this season. Wells is averaging just more than 200 passing yard per game and has thrown the same number of interceptions as touchdowns—eight. So long as the Blue Devils can limit a breakout performance from Wells and the Hokies, they should be able to walk away with a win.

Franck Djidjeu: Duke 35-21

Don't look now, but Duke has the third-best scoring offense in the ACC and the most dominant rushing attack. Its 26 rushing touchdowns lead the conference and are top-10 in the country. Along with their unmatched ability to force turnovers, it is clear how heavily that the Blue Devils lean on their strengths. I expect that to be the case against a Virginia Tech team that really does not have one strength. The Hokies struggle to pass or run the ball and have both the worst-ranked red-zone offense and defense in the conference. However, they should not be underestimated, as they have the ability to score in bursts, such as their 20-point second quarter against Georgia Tech a week ago. They have only lost their last three games by a total of eight points, so they may be primed to surprise. But as long as the Blue Devils overwhelm them with their strengths, Duke should be on its way to a second three-game win streak.

Season records:

Levitan: 6-3

Hurewitz: 7-2

Richie: 6-3

Long: 6-3

Kaplan: 6-3

Djidjeu: 5-4

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.


Share and discuss “Beats' picks: Will Duke football keep winning streak alive against Virginia Tech?” on social media.