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2017

Duke Blue Devils

College Football

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Schedule

Duke wasn't a pushover last season as seen in the win against North Carolina, but the Blue Devils still finished without a bowl and had just one win in ACC play. With the teams around them improving in the Coastal division, it’s going to take a bit more consistency and ability to close games for Duke to reach six wins this season.

The offense was mediocre at best in 2016, scoring 23.3 points per game, but that was sort of expected with Daniel Jones having to take over at quarterback a year too early for the injured Thomas Sirk. With a year under his belt, Jones should be better all around after throwing for 16 TDs and 9 INTs to go with a 62.8% completion rate. To help, top receiver T.J. Rahming (70 receptions, 742 yards) returns along with Aaron Young and Scott Bracey entering the mix. But to have a better passing game, the ground game has to improve from last year’s 3.9 yards per carry. Top RB Shaun Wilson (623 yards, 4 TDs) returns to go with Jones in the backfield, and with three offensive linemen returning, the thought is that they should be better in all facets.

To win more games, not only does the offense have to improve, but also a defense that gave up 96 points in the final two games last season. It doesn’t help that only six starters return with gaping holes along the line from a group that already wasn't that great. The good news is that linebacker has no questions with Ben Humphreys and Joe Giles-Harris leading the way, although that may be about it. Mike Ramsay returns on the line with safety Alonzo Saxton and corner Bryon Fields in the secondary, but again, this group has a long way to go outside of them.

While Duke beat Notre Dame last year, it’s going to need to do something similar with Baylor and Northwestern on the non-conference slate in addition to a late trip to Army. In ACC play, the best chances for wins will be home games against Miami, Pitt and Georgia Tech with none of those being easy. They travel to Virginia with the loser likely headed toward last in the division.

Still, the Blue Devils have better odds to win the conference (+5500 at 5Dimes Sportsbook) than three other teams so there is some hope with Jones at quarterback. Every game between Coastal division teams is truly a toss-up and to reach six wins, the Blue Devils will likely need to win at least three conference games if not four. This team is no longer a joke, but it will be a battle this season.

 

2017 Duke Blue Devils Football Schedule

Sept. 2 vs. North Carolina Central
Sept. 9 vs. Northwestern
Sept. 16 vs. Baylor
Sept. 23 at North Carolina

Sept. 29 vs. Miami (FL)
Oct. 7 at Virginia
Oct. 14 vs. Florida State
Oct. 21 vs. Pittsburgh

Oct. 28 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 11 at Army
Nov. 18 vs. Georgia Tech
Nov. 25 at Wake Forest

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