NCAA Football Saturday Betting: Duke Blue Devils at Northwestern Wildcats

Jela Duncan is averaging 70 yards per game through the Duke Blue Devils' first two games.
Jela Duncan is averaging 70 yards per game through the Duke Blue Devils’ first two games.

Time: 8 PM ET
Spread: NW -4
M/L: NW -175, DUK +155
Total: 44.5

Betting odds c/o 5dimes

It has not been a good start to the 2016 season for the 0-2 Northwestern Wildcats. Last week Northwestern fell 9-7 to Illinois State, and Clayton Thornson was pretty poor. The QB threw 17 of 41 for 191 yards and one TD, but averaged just 4.7 yards per attempt. He rushed for 30 more yards, but it took him all of 12 attempts. RB Justin Jackson was equally as futile, rushing 12 times for 42 yards as the Wildcats picked up just 86 rushing yards in the game.

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Northwestern scored its lone TD on a pass to Austin Carr in the fourth quarter, but still fell short. Carr had 73 yards on seven catches and Flynn Nagel had four catches for 44 yards, but Northwestern caught just 17 passes total for 191 yards and will need more offense to keep pace with the Duke Blue Devils here in Week 3.

College football oddsmakers are setting the line 4-points in favor of Northwestern, but it is going to take a much more inspired performance from Jackson and Thornson is going to have to move the ball down field.

This is not an offense that is clicking. In Week 1, Thornson threw 15 of 22 for 196 yards, but he did not throw any TD passes. Jackson rushed for 124 yards in Week 1, and he had three TDs in that loss to Western Michigan. Jackson had 124 yards, but Northwestern finished with 123 yards by virtue of the rest of the team going for a total of negative-one yard net. That is not the type of help that will be enough against a Blue Devils team that is having its own struggles.

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Duke fell 24-14 to Wake Forest in Week 2, after its meaningless 49-6 victory over NC Central in Week 1. Daniel Jones threw 31 of 48 for completion and had 332 passing yards, but he did not throw any TD passes and had an interception to finish with a passer rating of just 32.2. Jela Duncan was ineffective with the rush, picking up just 25 yards on nine attempts.

Jones rushed for just six yards on 19 carries, totally stifled, and only Shaun Wilson’s two carriers represented the rest of the work load, as Duke managed a pitiful 37 total rushing yards in the loss. Anthony Nash had a nice game at wide out with 112 yards on eight catches, including a 56-yard haul, and Johnathan Lloyd had eight catches for 67 yards, but Duke did not reach the end zone despite its 332 passing yards. AJ Reed also missed both of his field goals in the game, which is another black mark for a team struggling to reach the end zone as it is.

Jones has 521 yards and a 65.1 percent completion ratio this season with two TDs and one interception. Duncan has 140 yards on the season capped with a 50-yard TD run. Backup QB Parker Boehme has passed 6 of 8 for 38 yards, but he is second on the team in rushing yards with 68 yards on seven carries including a TD run.

Duke has six rushing TDs on the season, but Lloyd and Nash are two good WRs that will eventually begin to get the Blue Devils some receiving TDs. Lloyd already has one, but Nash has yet to catch a TD pass through the first two weeks. Duke needs to get more still from its passing game than simply getting down the field. Last week made that all too clear.

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