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VIRGINIA AT DUKE

9/27/08

1* Virginia +7 over Duke - We're not here to knock Duke. There's only one way to go for this program and that's up. They already have as many wins this year as the last 3 years combined, so hats off to David Cutcliffe and company. Duke is playing some good solid football on both sides of the ball and figures to be competitive, although it won't be easy the rest of the way.

What we have here is a major overreaction to each teams results thus far. Virginia is 1-2. They beat Richmond but were obliterated by USC and Uconn by a combined score of 97-17 giving up over 500 yards of offense to both the Huskies and Trojans. Meanwhile Duke is 2-1 to start the year and has folks paying attention. So, sure, if you just look at the scoreboard and the stats, Duke is deserving of the 7 point favorite role. However, if you dig a little deeper, and attach team names to those results, perhaps not. Duke beat James Madison and Navy and lost to Northwestern. Not so impressive really. Not compared to USC and Uconn. Point being, if it wasn't Duke, no one would care. They'd simply say this team hasn't beaten anyone yet.

The reason Duke is getting some attention is because they are 10-82 straight up this decade. That's right. 10 wins and 82 losses. Not very good huh? Yet here they are, favored by 7 points this week. They are favored based on their two wins and the fact that Virginia got blown out in their two losses. But really folks, how much is a team going to change in one year? This isn't pro ball where teams go from worst to first in a year. Change in college football is gradual. 2 wins one year. 5 the next. 7 or 8 after that, and then, who knows.

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Duke has been the worst team in college football for many years. While they may improve a little each year, don't expect too many more wins from them this year. As a matter of fact, this week against Virginia may be their last legitimate shot at another win all year looking at their schedule. They may in fact get that win too, as Virginia certainly isn't playing very well. It's simply not logical though, to think Virginia doesn't have a good shot here as well. If anything this one figures to be close.

Virginia was 9-4 a year ago. They were involved in a ton of close games. They have won 57 games this decade. That's 47 more than Duke. They get better talent through their recruiting efforts than Duke does. They have some key holes to fill but still return half of their offense and defense from a year ago, a team that aside from going 9-4, beat Duke 24-13. They have outscored Duke by an average 20 points per game the last 19 years and have gone 17-2 straight up during that time.

Playing and losing to USC is actually a positive here. We talk about this quite a bit. You play a team like USC, especially early in the year, and everything you have been working on in practice falls apart when you try and implement it in the game. USC is just too good. But then you get in there against a team like Duke, and bingo, things start to work they way they were designed.

Virginia has some problems for sure but let's not get too carried away with either of these two teams results after 3 games. Virginia is more than likely not as bad as they have looked. Duke is more than likely not as good as they have looked. What you more than likely have here, is two mediocre to bad teams. One on their way up, one on their way down. The most likely scenario here is a close game that comes down to the 4th quarter. We're getting some added value here based on season to date results and at the end of the day, this is still Duke. 1-11 last year. 0-12 the year before that. And so on, and so on.  1* Virginia +7

 

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