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2018

Duke

College Football

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Duke started and finished 2017 with wins, but the season was marred by six-straight losses in the middle of the schedule. Without some couple questionable losses (Virginia, Pitt, Army), the Blue Devils could’ve had a really nice season. That said, seven wins and a bowl victory can’t be complained about for this squad under David Cutcliffe. Year after year he gets this team to a bowl game and that should be the case again, although that doesn’t make this team a National Title contender with the fourth-best odds to win the ACC Coastal division and +60000 spring odds to win everything (at 5Dimes Sportsbook).

Duke has one thing a lot of teams don’t and that’s a quarterback with experience. Daniel Jones is in his third year as the starter, although his numbers took a step back last season, completing 55.7% of passes to go with 12 TDs and 11 picks. That has to improve if this team wants to score more than 25.8 points per game, especially with some questions up front. The line lost three starters and that’s the main area Duke has to get ready for the fall. That’s probably the only question with the skill positions set. Brittain Brown (660 yards, 6 TDs) is set to be the lead back with help from Deon Jackson. It’s the same at wide receiver where T.J. Rahming is set for a huge season (733 yards) along with Johnathan Lloyd (37 receptions).

The reason Duke got seven wins last year was because of the defense and that may be where its success comes from again after allowing only 20.8 points per game. With eight starters returning, there’s a possibility for improvement, as well. Linebacker is stocked with Joe Giles-Harris and Ben Humphreys, while the front has some guys that need to improve in ends Victor Dimukeje and Tre Hornbuckle. More experience is available in the secondary between cornerback Mark Gilbert and safety Jeremy McDuffie. This defense was great last season and with a lot of the same playmakers, should be just as good. Put that together with an improved offense and the Blue Devils should stay competitive in every game.

But staying competitive and winning are different things. That was a problem last year and it may be again with a new kicker. While trips to Northwestern and Baylor are tough, it’s more than possible the Blue Devils can steal one of those road games and go 3-1 in non-conference. If that doesn’t happen, they’re going to need some huge wins in ACC play because the schedule isn’t too enticing with the road game at Clemson standing out. Duke will need to beat Virginia, North Carolina and Wake at home in order to sniff more than six wins. Of course, on the other end of that, if they beat Virginia Tech at home and then grab wins on the road at Georgia Tech and Pitt, anything is possible. The Blue Devils should be an intriguing team to watch this season with eight or nine wins a possibility, but six or seven more realistic if Jones doesn’t improve behind a weaker offensive line. 

 

2018 Duke Blue Devils Football Schedule

Sept. 1 vs. Army

Sept. 8 at Northwestern

Sept. 15 at Baylor

Sept. 22 vs. NC Central

Sept. 29 vs. Virginia Tech

Oct. 13 at Georgia Tech

Oct. 20 vs. Virginia

Oct. 27 at Pittsburgh

Nov. 3 at Miami

Nov. 10 vs. North Carolina

Nov. 17 at Clemson

Nov. 24 vs. Wake Forest

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