Wake Forest – Duke
Time: 3:30 PM ET
Spread: DUK -2.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
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Wake Forest prevailed 7-3 over Tulane in Week 1. The Demon Deacons scored their lone TD on a second quarter on a 1-yard TD run by Kendall Hinton. Hinton rushed for 24 yards on eight carries, leading Tulane’s backfield which rushed for just 79 yards on 34 attempts (2.3 yards per carry). QB John Wolford threw 9 of 17 for 79 yards with six different receivers getting in on the action.
Wake receiver Cam Serigne caught three passes for 15 yards and Matt Colburn had a pair of catches for 29 yards. Steven Claude had a 30-yard kick return, but Tabari Hines returned his two punts for a total of two yards. Dom Maggio did a solid job punting with a 40.3 yard average on eight kicks and a long of 53-yards.
Wake Forest’s offense last season was hardly a cause for celebration, so returning nine starters from it hardly seems like it should be either. But there is something to be said for experience, even if it was a unit that only averaged 17.4 points and 333.4 yards per game in 2015.
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Wolford threw for 1,791 yards last season with nine TDs. He will battle to hold his spot with sophomore Kendall Hinton challenging him. Hinton is a better rusher than Wolford, and he was second on the team in rushing last season with 390 yards and seven TDs. In the backfield, Wake will have Tyler Bell returning. The sophomore rushed for 451 yards last season. As it appears now, Wake will utilize both options, though Hinton is to serve primarily as a rusher. It will be an effective strategy.
The OL returns four starters, the best of which is LT Justin Herron. Wake Forest averaged just 105.2 rushing yards per game last season, ranking No. 122 among FBS schools, but with the OL having experience and Bell and Hinton both in the mix, that figure should improve this season.
Wake Forest has gone 3-9 each of the last two seasons, and while the team returns a lot of starters, what is it really building to? Wake Forest did stay in games last season, losing four by eight points or less, so presumably with the experience gained this team can manage to win one or two of those close games. We will go with ‘one,’ and expect a pretty modest improvement from the Deacons.
Duke rolled over NC Central 49-6 in Week 1. Daniel Jones got the majority of the reps at QB, throwing 10 of 15 for 189 yards and two TDs. Parker Boehme looked good, too, though throwing 6 of 8 for 38 yards and a TD.
Duke running back Jela Duncan had a big game with 115 yards on a 15-carry load. He scored two TDs and had a long run of 50 yards, while Boehme rushed for 68 yards on seven carries with a TD. The Blue Devils rushed for 308 yards on 63 carries with four rushing TDs. The receivers accounted for another 227 yards led by Johnathan Lloyd’s 62 yards and TD on two receptions.
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Five Blue Devils had two catches or more, and the offense was plenty diversified in Week 1 for the Blue Devils. Duke led 49-0 at the half, but did not score in a second half which saw the NC Central Eagles kick a pair of field goals. Shaun Wilson was strong on kick returns with an average of 25 yards on his two returns, while Ryan Smith managed 10.8 yards per punt return with a 36-yard return. Austin Parker did a good job punting with a 40.8 yard average on four attempts.
The Duke Blue Devils have a four-year streak of appearing in bowl games. That is likely to come to an end. Duke returns just four returning starters to its offense and lost almost all the key performers from the unit that averaged 439.4 yards per game in 2015.
Duke should take the biggest step back of all ACC teams. It was a nice four-year stint making bowl games, but the lack of a QB as well as just general inexperience throughout both its offense and defense will be a major set back this season. If Sirk recovers early in the season, Duke will be there in some senses, but there is no way this team wins eight games as it did in 2015.
Defensively, the Blue Devils just do not generate enough pressure to force a lot of turnovers, and last season it finished with a -0.08 margin on turnovers. Little things like that will hold Duke back mostly towards mediocrity in 2016. Duke is 2.5 point favorites in Week 2, but it is tough to back that with a lot of confidence in a game that should go down to the wire.
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