After its double-overtime loss in Chapel Hill last weekend, Duke football hits the road again, traveling a little farther up to Charlottesville, Va. The Chronicle's beat writers predict whether the Blue Devils can get back on their feet against the Cavaliers:
Andrew Long: Duke 24-10
This has all the potential to be a bit of a hangover game for Duke, having played well over an hour of grueling football last Saturday in a double-overtime heartbreaker against North Carolina, with the defense especially seeing substantial minutes in an effort to shut down the likes of Drake Maye and Omarion Hampton. Legs will be tired, as will the Blue Devils’ collective consciousness after so many near-victory moments, but if we’ve learned one thing about this team, it’s that it responds when it is challenged. It will have the opportunity to do just that against a struggling Cavalier unit also coming off a close loss to Louisville a week ago.
Despite the fact that Virginia ran the Cardinals to the wire, toppled North Carolina on the road in October and will undoubtedly be out for blood in front of its home crowd, I don’t foresee this game being the same type of hurdle the Tar Heels were. The Cavaliers are now starting backup quarterback Anthony Colandrea in Tony Muskett’s absence, struggling for consistency on either of the ball and without running back Perris Jones, who suffered a horrific injury against Louisville. For as angry as Virginia will be, I think Duke may just be slightly angrier, and will head up to Charlottesville, Va., to take care of business pretty handily.
Rachael Kaplan: Duke 24-20
The game against North Carolina was draining. You never quite know how it will affect the team until they start playing, but it will in some way. While Duke’s quality of play vastly improved between the games against the Demon Deacons and the Tar Heels, a rivalry loss is always demoralizing. Freshman quarterback Grayson Loftis is definitely getting his feet under him, but so is Colandrea. The game will ultimately rest on the shoulders of the young signal callers, but if everyone performs up to expectation, the Blue Devils have the edge. Head coach Mike Elko’s goal-line defense is one of the best in the country, and with two offenses still finding their footing, that will be the difference maker.
Ranjan Jindal: Duke 30-17
Virginia is a much, much better team than its record indicates, staying competitive in the majority of its league contests. Therefore, Duke has to be careful traveling to Charlottesville coming off of an emotional loss. That being said, I think Loftis can once again feast against a sub-par defense, and the Blue Devils’ elite ground game matches up favorably with the Cavalier front. I think this game could start off fairly close; Virginia has enough offensive weapons to put points on the board, but Duke should pull away in the end.
Dom Fenoglio: Duke 23-13
As much drive and vengeance the Blue Devils bring to Saturday’s matchup — as they look to avenge their double-overtime loss to North Carolina — the Cavaliers also have a lot to play for. Virginia is just 2-8 this season, but has played close, winnable games all year, and it must feel better than its current second-to-last place standing in the ACC. Pair that with the off-the-field adversity the program has gone through, and the Cavaliers will certainly come out fighting. All that being said, I think that Duke has a more talented roster, and with another week for Loftis to learn the offensive system, the Blue Devils should win fairly comfortably.
Caleb Dudley: Duke 28-7
Duke needs a bounceback win desperately. Unfortunately for the Blue Devils, the Cavaliers are not a pushover in the slightest, taking Louisville to the wire in their last contest. However, I think Elko’s squad is primed for a statement performance despite the emotional letdown in Chapel Hill. I think Duke’s defense is simply too experienced and talented for freshman quarterback Colandrea to handle, and the Blue Devils will pick up a relatively easy victory.
Micah Hurewitz: Duke 31-14
Loftis made a big step forward last week and I think Virginia is a good opportunity for him to continue his upward trend, especially when Duke can exploit the Cavaliers poor run defense. Virginia certainly has some playmakers offensively but the Blue Devil defense has the weapons to stifle guys like Malik Washington, so this can be a smooth sailing victory for the visiting Blue Devils. Duke should be able to nab its seventh win of the season Saturday, but it will still have to be cautious and play a complete game to do so.
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Micah Hurewitz is a Trinity senior and was previously a sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 118th volume.
Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity junior and sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.
Dom Fenoglio is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.
Ranjan Jindal is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.
Andrew Long is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.