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Duke vs. Wake Forest
Betting Line: Wake Forest -6
David Cutcliffe and his Duke Blue Devils hit the road this week to take on Jim Grobe and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in a game that pits two 5 win teams from a year ago against each other. While both teams won 5 games last season, for one team, Duke, that was a good thing. For the other, Wake Forest, that was a major let down.
Cutcliffe took over a Duke team that won 4 games in 4 years. He won 4 games in his first year and then 5 games last year, so naturally, hopes are high. The hopes are that Cutcliffe has this team headed in the right direction and that more than 5 wins can be expected in 2010. It won't be easy though. While they return 9 starters on offense, they lose perhaps the best QB they ever had, Thaddeus Lewis. But they do return the rest of the offense and 6 on defense and you'd expect a good coach to show his impact in his 3rd year.
In Dukes favor is that Jim Grobe also has his work cut out for him at Wake Forest. This was a team that won 8 games or more 4 straight years including an 11-3 season in 2006. We cashed plenty of tickets on Wake Forest as they snuck up on teams in that run. But times have changed. Wake Forest still managed to produce offensively last year but their defense wasn't anything to write home about. They gave up 26 points per game on average, the same number their own offense averaged. Like Duke, they will also have to replace a QB that was key to their success, Riley Skinner.
If Duke is going to improve on their 5 win total, this is a game they have to win. As you look at their schedule, there are perhaps 6 winnable games if you include this one and the game they already won against Elon College. It's now or never for Duke beating Wake Forest as they catch Wake with lots of work to do and new players to break in. Even with the talent gap in recent years, in seasons where Duke won a game or two, they managed to play Wake Forest tough. In 2006 they lost 14-13. In 2007 they lost 41-36. In Cutcliffes 1st year they lost 33-30, and then last year they lost 45-34 in a game that was 21-17 at the half.
Duke held their own against much better Wake Forest teams than this one. Question marks at QB are the equalizer here. Wake Forest doesn't have a QB on the roster that's started a regular season college football game until last week. If you call the QB situation a wash, than Duke actually has more horses from a year ago and as a whole, is the more veteran team that has already proven they can play with Wake Forest. We're hoping the 3rd time is the charm for David Cutcliffe. As we write this, we see at least one sportsbook with a +6 on this game. We'll take it. Duke +6
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