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PREVIEW: Hurricanes look to close regular season with road win against cellar dwelling Duke

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Canes head back to Durham for a final week matchup against the Blue Devils

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 20 Virginia Tech at Miami Photo by Samuel Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s regular season finale day for the Miami Hurricanes! On deck as we conclude the 2021 schedule for the Canes are a Coastal Division foe who has struggled to one of the worst seasons in years: the Duke Blue Devils.

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Overall

Following the embarrassing and unacceptable loss to Florida State, Miami fired Athletic Director Blake James. And, in the aftermath of that monumental failure, the Canes rebounded last week to beat Virginia Tech, to move to 6-5 on the year, earn bowl eligibility, and send the seniors off with a win in their final home game at Hard Rock Stadium.

On the flip side, the Duke Blue Devils continued to struggle through a very tough 2021 season. David Cutcliffe’s team lost their 7th consecutive game, getting blown out by 40 points at home to Louisville 62-22. Those 7 consecutive losses have been the entirety of Duke’s ACC schedule, and they look to avoid going winless in the league if they can pull off a pretty massive upset over Miami this afternoon at Wallace Wade Stadium.

When Duke is on Offense

Duke is actually halfway decent moving the ball. They rank 37th in total offense, averaging 436.5 yards per game. That top line number is good, but digging a bit, it’s not as rosy a picture. The Blue Devils rank 81st nationally averaging 5.55 yards per play.

Senior QB Gunnar Holmberg leads the offense for the Blue Devils. He’s completed 67.7% of his passes for 2,210 yards with a 7/7 TD-INT ratio this year. His primary targets have been Jake Bobo (71-742-1) and Jalon Calhoun (52-685-3). Duke’s starting RB has 25 catches. And no other receiver has more than 15 catches on the year coming into today’s game.

Speaking of the run game, RB Mateo Durant is the star of the offense. Durant has filled the stat sheet: 233 carries for 1176 yards and 9 TDs on the ground and 25 catches for 244 yards and 2 TDs through the air. The rest of the running game is a group of 3 QBs and 1 RB, none with more than 250 yards. So, basically, if it’s going to happen on the ground, expect it to happen with Durant.

Despite their relative success moving the ball, Duke has struggled to score points this season. The Blue Devils are tied with Troy and Wyoming for 99th nationally averaging 24.0 points per game. Duke is also one of the worst teams in the country in turnover margin at -6 for the season, which has affected their ability to complete drives and put points on the board.

When Duke is on Defense

To put it mildly, Duke has been an abomination on defense this year. The Blue Devils are allowing 39.1 points per game, with opponents gaining 516.5 yards per game on 7.24 yards per play. Those are massive, MASSIVE numbers for a defense to allow.

LB Shaka Howard leads the Blue Devils with 88 tackles and 11 TFLs on the year. S Lummie Young IV has chipped in with 64 tackles, with LB Dorian Mausi and S Da’Quan Johnson have added 55 and 48 tackles, respectively. DE RJ Oben leads the team with 5 sacks and DT DeWayne Carter is right behind him with 4.5.

Outlook

To be perfectly honest, this should be an easy win for Miami. Duke is one of the worst P5 teams in the country, winless in the ACC, and has proven unable to compete with even middle of the road teams. And, with Miami being a middle of the road team by performance this year, the Canes should roll to a big win.

Prediction: Miami 47 Duke 20

Go Canes