Who has the edge? Duke at No. 2 Clemson
Today No.2 Clemson will honor its greatest senior class in school history. With a win, it will be in ACC history as well, when it hosts Duke for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Death Valley.
It will also be Military Appreciation Day in Clemson as the university celebrates its military heritage and honors those in the US Armed Forces.
In other words, it is going to be an emotional night in Memorial Stadium, but the Tigers have business to take care of too as they look to stay near the top of the College Football Playoff race.
So, who has the edge in tonight’s game?
Duke O-Line vs. Clemson’s D-Line: So far this year, the Blue Devils have allowed 21 sacks, which ranks eighth in the ACC. Clemson’s defense, which is led by its dominating front four, leads the ACC with 36 sacks. The Tigers are also second in the ACC with 99 tackles for loss. Duke quarterback Daniel Jones can test the Clemson secondary if he is given enough time. The question is will he have enough time to throw the football? Advantage: Clemson
Travis Etienne vs. Duke’s run defense: The Blue Devils have had their moments this year, like when they held Northwestern to 99 rushing yards or when Georgia Tech’s triple-option offense had just 229 rushing yards. However, injuries have started to pile up on the defense. Linebacker Joe Giles-Harris has missed time and is questionable for tonight’s game, while starting safety Dylan Singleton is out with a broken foot. That has not boded well for Duke in the last two games as it allowed 615 combined rushing yards to Miami and North Carolina on the ground. The Blue Devils are allowing 212.0 rushing yards per game. Clemson running back Travis Etienne leads the ACC in rushing 1,076 yards. As a team, the Tigers rank third in the ACC running the ball, averaging 251.7 yards per game. Advantage: Clemson
Trevor Lawrence vs. Duke secondary: It will be interesting to see how Duke defends Clemson’s passing game. The Blue Devils have been unable to get pressure on the quarterback all season. They rank last in the ACC with just 19 sacks. In return, they have just three interceptions all year, which also ranks last in the conference. Surprisingly, Duke has allowed just 193.7 yards per game through the air, but some of that can be contributed to the amount of success teams have had at running the ball in recent weeks. Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and his wide receivers will be the most sophisticated passing attack Duke has seen this season and given the fact the Tigers should be able to run the ball against the Blue Devils the play action and other elements of the passing game should have success against the Duke secondary. Advantage: Clemson
Bottom line: I think Duke is a good football team led by one of the best coaches in the game in David Cutcliffe. His teams always plays hard-fundamentally-sound football and rarely beat themselves. That will be the case tonight. However, Clemson has too much talent for Duke and with a beat-up defense trying to stop Lawrence and the Clemson offense, the Tigers should have an opportunity to put up a lot of yards.
Prediction: Clemson 56, Duke 10