Week 6 – Virginia at Duke

Posted Oct 3, 2012

Week 6 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Preview – Virginia at Duke

Virginia (2-3) at Duke (4-1) Oct. 6, 3:00, RSN

Here's The Deal: Duke has reached a point of critical mass with its football program. After snapping a 12-game losing streak to Wake Forest with an exciting 34-27 win in Winston-Salem, the Blue Devils are about to embark on their most important home game in ages. Here's the set-up: The program is off to its best start since 1994, which is also the last time it went bowling. Duke needs two more wins to achieve that coveted bowl-eligibility, but the second half of the schedule is a bear with sharp claws. The Blue Devils have to have this game against a struggling Virginia team, or else they could spend the final two months frustratingly chasing a dream against the likes of Florida State and Clemson. The Cavaliers are mired in a nosedive, losers of three straight games, which would have been four if Penn State PK Sam Ficken could make a field goal in Week 2. Last week's home loss to Louisiana Tech added fuel to a growing quarterback controversy, as backup Phillip Sims nearly rallied UVA back after incumbent Michael Rocco was shaky for a third straight week.

Why Virginia Might Win: Duke was gutsy in last week's win, but it's also banged up, something the program can't afford. Heck, even starting QB Sean Renfree, the offensive linchpin, is nursing a sore elbow. Whether it's Rocco or Sims in the saddle, the Cavaliers will need to build on last week's late offensive rally. This is still an offense with a couple of capable runners, Perry Jones and Kevin Parks, and a pair of offensive tackles with NFL futures. With emerging sophomore Darius Jennings on the outside and Jake McGee at tight end, Virginia should be able to keep drives alive through the air.

Why Duke Might Win: Renfree's right arm would have to be in a sling for him not to play this week. His team needs him, and he most definitely wants a crack at the Virginia D. The Cavaliers just don't make big plays, registering four sacks and three takeaways through five games. The senior, who has been well-protected all year, is going to get the time he needs to play pitch-and-catch with a veteran receiving corps led by Conner Vernon, Desmond Scott and Jamison Crowder. And the Blue Devils defense continues to play a scrappy brand of football, generating heat up front and limiting long gains in all but the blowout loss to Stanford in Week 2.

What To Watch Out For: Duke is a surprising second to Florida State in the ACC in sacks, setting the stage for an intriguing game-within-the-game at Wallace Wade Stadium. The Blue Devils are capable of collapsing the pocket off the edge with ends Kenny Anunike and Dezmond Johnson. But Virginia's flanks are protected by All-ACC candidates Oday Aboushi and Morgan Moses. If Duke can succeed in flushing out the quarterback, the Cavaliers' turnover problems are going to continue in Durham.

What Will Happen: This is obviously a tell-tale game for Duke, which needs to figure out if it can thrive under pressure and when it genuinely needs to win a game. The quarterbacks on both sides will be under the microscope on Saturday. Will Renfree be hindered by his injury? And who gets most of the snaps for the Hoos? The Blue Devils are playing with some attitude and swagger these days for David Cutcliffe, which doesn't happen often in Durham. They'll overcome hurdles and fading Virginia, with plenty of assist from the passing game, to move within an inch of qualifying for the postseason.

CFN Prediction: Duke 31 … Virginia 27
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Duke -2.5 O/U: 57
Must Watch Rating (5 – Master, 1 – Trouble with the Curve): 2