Prop bets for Duke football vs. Troy

<p>Redshirt senior defensive tackle DeWayne Carter jumps for the ball against Pittsburgh.</p>

Redshirt senior defensive tackle DeWayne Carter jumps for the ball against Pittsburgh.

The Blue Devils will close out their 2023 season in the Birmingham Bowl against Troy. Ahead of kickoff, the Blue Zone brings you — for one last time — some can’t miss prop bets:

Duke (+4.5) vs Troy:

What a difference 24 hours can make. On Saturday, Nov. 25, Duke capped its rollercoaster of a season with a confident, comfortable 30-19 win at home against Pittsburgh. Freshman quarterback Grayson Loftis completed 20 passes for 248 yards and 2 touchdowns, while junior wideout Jordan Moore continued his late-season success, hauling in eight receptions for 106 yards and a score. The win pushed the Blue Devils to 7-5, cementing former head coach Mike Elko’s second winning season in as many years and boosting their bowl placement. 

One night later, Elko disappeared from Durham on a private jet to College Station, Texas, where he would be announced as the next head coach of Texas A&M. The move rocked the team, who was taken totally by surprise, and with the free-flowing rules of the transfer portal, opened the floodgates. Headlined by junior star quarterback Riley Leonard, many key pieces of Duke’s success throughout the Elko Era exited stage right, including senior safety Jaylen Stinson, redshirt senior defensive end RJ Oben, senior defensive tackle Aenas Peebles, senior linebacker Dorian Mausi and graduate running back Jordan Waters.

On the other hand, Troy enters the Birmingham Bowl scorching hot, winners of its last 10 games. The Trojans capped their successful 2023 campaign with a convincing 49-23 victory over Appalachian State to win the Sun Belt Conference. Junior running back Kimani Vidal had a career day, rushing for 233 yards, averaging 9.0 per carry and scoring a whopping five touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver Chris Lewis made the most of his three receptions, gaining 98 yards and finding the end zone. Although quarterback Gunnar Watson let his running back do most of the work, he has passed for an impressive 3,339 yards this season and holds a touchdown to interception ratio of 27:5. On the defensive side of the ball, senior linebacker Richard Jibunor has terrorized offensive lines, registering nine sacks and 53 total tackles this year.

In the noon matchup on ABC, Duke remains mostly a question mark against a well oiled Trojan machine. While the line has moved in the Blue Devils' direction since opening at +7, it is extremely difficult to succeed in football with so much change in the coaching staff. Also given Duke’s struggles in stopping the run, expect Troy to win by at least a score.

Pick: Troy -4.5

Over/Under 44.5 Total Points

The Trojans have excelled at scoring the ball this year, averaging 31.15 points per game. Vidal, standing at just 5-foot-8, has used his elusive speed and agility to scamper for 1,582 total yards and 14 touchdowns. Troy also had three receivers eclipse 500 yards, with junior Jabre Barber working as the primary receiver. The Dothan, Ala., native has caught 65 balls and gained 892 yards this year while scoring five touchdowns. However, in the Trojan’s only game against a Power 5 school, they were held to just 13 points against then-No. 15 Kansas State. Against one of the better defenses in college football in Duke, Troy may struggle to score at its usual clip.

The Blue Devils have also found success scoring the ball, averaging 27.75 points per game. Even with the rotation at quarterback due to injury, Duke found success through the air, as wideouts Jordan Moore and Jalon Calhoun picked up 794 and 642 yards, respectively. However, with the arrival of new head coach Manny Diaz, Jonathan Brewer reportedly joined the coaching staff as the new offensive coordinator. While current offensive coordinator Kevin Johns is still on staff, the in-house turmoil may pose challenges to the functionality of the Blue Devils' offense. Expect the bowl game to be lower scoring than projected.

Pick: Under

Jaquez Moore Over/Under 47.5 Rushing Yards:

Moore announced that he would enter the transfer portal Dec. 6. After rushing for 601 yards and six touchdowns as the solid No. 2 back behind running back Jordan Waters, the Live Oak, Fla., native announced via X he would not be returning to Durham. Just five days later, Diaz had convinced the junior to stay. Now the number one running back with the departure of Waters to down-the-road rival N.C. State, Moore will only see his usage increase. Duke relied heavily on the ground game this year due to the injury carousel at quarterback, and will likely lean on the running game once again in its bowl game. Expect Moore to see upwards of ten carries, and thus outdo his expected yardage. 

Pick: Over


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