Duke Blue Devils at Tulane Green Wave
Thursday, September 3, 2015, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: CBS Sports Network
Yulman Stadium – New Orleans, Louisiana
Opening Line: Duke -11
Current Line: Duke -7 1/2
Opening Total: 48
Current Total: 47 1/2
Opening Money Line: Duke -410 / Tulane +290
Current Money Line: Duke -310 / Tulane +255
The Duke Blue Devils and Tulane Green Wave meet for the fifth time ever Thursday in New Orleans. Each team has won two games in the series. Duke has won two straight games in the series, including 47-13 last year in Durham. The two teams will play another home and home in 2019 and 2020.
Duke went 9-4 last year under coach David Cutcliffe. The Blue Devils have gone to three straight bowls for the first time in program history. Last year, Duke lost to Arizona State 36-31 in the Sun Bowl in El Paso. Duke hasn’t won a bowl game since the 1961 Cotton Bowl. However, the fact that the football team has been relevant for the last three seasons instead of just a temporary diversion until Coach K’s basketball team begins play is a victory in itself.
Tulane was 3-9 last year under coach Curtis Johnson. It was the first season in the American Athletic Conference after 18 seasons in Conference USA. The Green Wave had wins over SE Louisiana, Connecticut and Houston last year. The Green Wave lost five of their last six games. Aside from a 7-6 season in 2013 and a bowl appearance in the New Orleans Bowl, this team hasn’t won more than 5 games in a season since 2002.
Duke was 8-4-1 ATS last year and the total was 4-8. Tulane was 4-8 ATS and the total was 5-7 last year.
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Duke outscored opponents 34-22 last year. The Blue Devils were #40 in scoring and #24 in points allowed nationally. Duke averaged 398 total yards on offense, including 217 passing and 182 rushing yards. On defense, the Blue Devils allowed 400 yards per game including 207 passing and 193 rushing yards. Duke was #33 in pass defense and #92 in rush defense nationally out of 128 teams. The Blue Devils were +6 in turnovers.
Junior Thomas Sirk takes over at quarterback for the now graduated Anthony Boone. Sirk threw for 67 yards with 3 touchdowns last year, and also rushed for 238 yards on 47 carries with 8 touchdowns. He made an appearance in every game last year but one, usually rushing but he did attempt 14 passes last year.
Three running backs are listed on the injury report for Duke. Jela Duncan is out indefinitely with a pectoral injury. The junior was supposed to be part of committee of running backs along with Shaquille Powell and Shaun Wilson. Powell had 134 carries for 618 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 18 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown. Wilson had 78 carries for 598 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 18 catches for 179 yards and a touchdown. He is probable with a leg injury. Joseph Ajeigbe is also probable with a leg injury. He had 41 carries for 150 yards last year.
Leading receiver Jamison Crowder is now with the Washington Redskins. He had 85 catches for 1,044 yards and 6 touchdowns. Max McCaffrey is back after making 37 catches for 385 yards and 3 touchdowns. Tight end Braxton Deaver is back after missing all of last year with a torn ACL. He had 46 catches for 600 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2013. Redshirt freshman Chris Taylor has the potential to be a big play receiver.
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Tulane struggled badly on offense last year averaging 347 yards per game, including 201 passing and 146 yards. The Green Wave scored only 16 points a game. Tulane was #85 or worse in all four categories including #107 in total offense and #121 in scoring out of 128 teams. The defense wasn’t terrible but had to stay on the field for long periods of time because of the inept offense. Tulane gave up 388 yards per game, including 230 passing and 158 rushing. The Green Wave allowed 28 points per game. Tulane was +3 in turnovers.
Sophomore quarterback Tanner Lee is back after passing for 1,962 yards with 12 touchdowns and 154 interceptions. He needs to cut down on the mistakes as he threw way too many picks.
The top three rushers are back for Tulane. Sherman Badie had 121 carries for 688 yards and 3 touchdowns, plus 24 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. Lazedrick Thompson had 109 carries for 533 yards and 4 touchdowns. Dontrell Hilliard had 97 carries for 452 yards and 3 touchdowns, and 30 catches for 244 yards and a touchdown.
Receiver Teddy Veal had 40 catches for 381 yards and a touchdown. Tight ends Charles Jones (21 catches, 192 yards and 3 touchdowns) and Trey Scott (9 catches, 76 yards) will figure prominently in the offense as well.
Duke is 8-0 ATS on fieldturf, 5-1-1 in non-conference games, 9-3 in road games, and 19-7-1 overall.
Tulane is 11-5 ATS at home, 3-8 in September, 1-4 overall, in non-conference games and on fieldturf, and 0-4 against ACC teams.
You see some drastic line moves the first week of college football because they usually come out in June or July. Still, I don’t see why people have bet Duke down from an 11 point favorite to -7.5. Tulane is stilla very young team. I know Duke has questions about the health of their running backs and a quarterback making his first career start. Still, I think the Blue Devils win this game rather easily by at least 2 touchdowns.
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