Duke Preview: Bowl Game or Bust...

Chan Gailey recruit Sean Renfree is suiting up against the Jackets this week. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Duke is our second to last game and our best chance at extending the 13 year old bowl streak. Duke comes into the game having improved statistically but not necessarily record-wise. The Blue Devils have tangled with four common opponents of the Jackets: Wake Forest, Miami, Virginia, and Virginia Tech. In those four games, the Devils have scored 31 points per game but have also given up 45 points per game in the same sordid affairs. Here's a breakdown of the four common opponents and GT and Duke's scoring efficiencies against them:

Scoring_medium

The chart shows the average defense against ACC teams (ACCD), the points Duke put up, the points GT put up, and the efficiency of Duke and GT. Efficiency is simply the points scored in the game divided by the average scoring defense. So in the left table, numbers greater than 1 are good because that means you increased a team's average scoring defense. The right table indicates Duke and GT's scoring defenses. This table is the opposite. If the efficiency is greater than 1, that's bad. That means you helped out an opposing offense's ACC scoring average. It's good to see that Duke has a pretty bad scoring defense (as opposed to GT's poor scoring offense).

As I stated earlier, the Blue Devils have had some nasty shootouts. Georgia Tech and the four common opponents of Duke have only averaged 48 points/game combined. That's only about 7 touchdowns per game. Duke's games with the four common opponents average 11 touchdowns per game. The Blue Devils are looking to score some points. I fear that the Jackets would be tough pressed to win a shootout considering we only scored 24 points against a Wake Forest D that gives up around 40 points per game.

Where the Blue Devils really struggle is fielding a consistent offensive attack. Their offense (against the four common opponents) has averaged 75 plays per game while Georgia Tech averaged 72. Georgia Tech opponents have only managed 64 snaps per game while the Blue Devils have had to face 77 offensive plays per game against the four common opponents. I think a lot of this is due to the fact that the Blue Devils averaged 18 incompletions per game against Wake, Miami, UVA, and VT. Thus, extending the game for their opponents. Even though the Jackets aren't nearly as accurate as Duke, our team only threw 31 total incompletions in the four aforementioned games.

Scoring2_medium

The above tables are the passing efficiencies for the Jackets and Blue Devils against their four common opponents. The Devils did a pretty good job passing-wise against everyone except VT. Georgia Tech is a run first team and ultimately helped out everyone's passing defense statistics. The converse can be said about the running game as Tech pummeled everyone's rushing defense with carry after carry while the Blue Devils rushing offense failed to meet defensive allowance averages in 3 of the 4 games we've discussed since the beginning of the post. Check out the stats broken down below.

Scoring3_medium

Both run defenses are awful. We only partially slowed down the Hokies while the Blue Devils gave up 300 yards passing against the Hokies so the Hokies never needed to run. So now let's stack everything up head to head...

Tech's rushing offense versus Duke's rush D. Advantage Tech. Duke's rushing offense versus Tech's rush D. Wash. Tech's passing offense versus Duke's passing D. Wash. Duke's passing offense versus Tech's pass D. Slight advantage Duke. I predict Tech takes the game but gives up some points in the process. The Blue Devils are more balanced in 2010 but they can't stop the run to save their lives. I'm taking Tech to win 30 to 24. After giving up some big plays on defense, Tech settles down in the second half and wins on talent much like we did against UVA. Winfield thinks we'll win 30-20. He says we shouldn't break 30. What do you think?
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