Can Duke’s High-Powered Offense Lead Them Past Cincinnati’s Aggressive D-Line?
Duke’s back in the postseason for the first time since 1994. Cincinnati, after tying for yet another Big East title, feels a bit burned after the ACC‘s realignment decision to take Louisville over the Bearcats. Will they take out their anger on the reeling Blue Devils?
Bowl Game: Belk Bowl
Location: Charlotte, N.C.
First Year: 2002 (Continental Tire Bowl)
2012 Participants: Duke Blue Devils (6-6) vs. Cincinnati Bearcats (9-3)
Last Meeting: Never
Duke (previous bowl game: 34-20 loss to Wisconsin in 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl)
Through eight games, the Blue Devils were the darlings of college football. At 6-2, they clinched their first bowl trip in 18 years all the way back in October. And yet, we’re looking at Duke much in the same way we normally do now, after four straight rough contests knock them down to 6-6. Simply put, Duke has one thing going for them: a prolific passing offense. Racking up over 277 yards per game, it’s hard to find a more impressive unit than this one, led by veterans Sean Renfree and Conner Vernon. Unfortunately, the defense has done little to stop other teams from putting up similar numbers in their own passing games. Ranked 97th in the country in passing yards per game, the Blue Devils have struggled mightily stopping big gains through the air (hammered home by the 25 passing touchdowns put up against them). When you make former Stanford starter Josh Nunes look like a Heisman contender, those numbers shouldn’t surprise you.
Can Miami Run By Virginia Tech Tonight, Or Will the Hokies Shut Down the ‘Canes Offense?
The main goal for the ACC this weekend? Establish some order in the Coastal division. Three teams are still vying for the division crown — which would normally be fine and exciting — but all are seriously flawed teams, and just setting themselves up for an inevitable drubbing in the conference championship game at the hands of Florida State. You want to know how a conference earns respect? By not sending a 6-6 team to its conference title game. I’m all about giving the ACC credit where credit is due, but the best way to combat outside criticisms — especially legitimate ones — is to win games on the field and have a respectable number of “elite” teams. Right now, both of those concepts remain a work in progress.
Game of the Week
Virginia Tech Hokies (4-4) (2-2) at Miami Hurricanes (4-4) (3-2): The winner of this game gets a big leg up in the Coastal division, especially the Hokies, who would own the head-to-head tiebreaker against the other two teams in the race. But even with a division lead, both of these teams are still incredibly difficult to figure out. At times, Miami’s offense appears to be full of weapons and capable of scoring on anyone. But then at other moments, and especially against higher quality competition, the ‘Canes look utterly outgunned and toothless. Tech, on the other hand has its own issues stemming from an under-performing and passive defense, as well as a one-man show of an offense. Inevitably, it may turn into a similar game to last year’s, with one quarterback making a play at the end, while the other simply couldn’t. So is that Logan Thomas or Stephen Morris? With Miami’s inability to generate pressure, I’ll go with Thomas. Prediction: Virginia Tech 33, Miami 28