Duke-Georgia Tech: Devils Hope to Stick a Fork in Jacket's Dominance

Mike KlineAnalyst INovember 13, 2009

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 29:  The mascot of the Duke Blue Devils throws his pitchfork into the endzone during the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Wallace Wade Stadium on November 29, 2008 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Believe it or not, Duke's football season is technically not over.

Their chances of getting to a bowl though are dwindling.

And depending on the next two games, both against ranked opponents, the Blue Devils could be staying home for the postseason.

On Saturday, Duke takes on No.7 Georgia Tech. Most give Duke very little chance in this game and for good reason.

The Yellow Jackets, despite coach Paul Johnson's variation of the triple option, are quite the potent offensive unit.

They are almost guaranteed to put up 40 or more points every time out. That is saying something for a team that grinds things out primarily on the ground.

But Johnson's option isn't your grandfather's option. This isn't three yards and a cloud of dust. Leading rusher Jonathan Dwyer averages more than six yards per carry.

The second leading rusher, quarterback Josh Nesbitt, averages almost four per carry.

Figure in Tech's freakishly large wide receivers for an option offense, and Johnson's propensity for some trickery and it spells major problems for the Blue Devil defense.

That doesn't even take into account that Duke's best defensive lineman and linebacker may miss the game with injuries.

If Duke is to have any chance of winning this game, they will have to force Tech to punt at least periodically and hope that quarterback Thad Lewis can find his stride again after an off game last week.

If Lewis can get a rhythm going against Georgia Tech's defense, then the Blue Devils can keep it close. If not expect a blowout in short order.

Prediction: Duke 21, Georgia Tech 47. Duke is too banged up and emotionally bruised from last week's grinding loss to rival North Carolina.

The Yellow Jackets are a finely tuned machine in Johnson's second year. Duke is just getting the parts to work together and is still subject to frequent breakdowns.

The Blue Devils couldn't stop North Carolina's rushing attack last week with a healthy defense; don't expect them to fair better against a much better offensive unit on Saturday.

Keys for Duke: The Blue Devils need to score early and often. For them to have a realistic chance of beating Georgia Tech they will have to find a way to get a lead.

If Duke can force the Yellow Jackets out of their comfort zone, namely the running game, they could keep the game in reach.

Keys for Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets just need to run and when they are done running, run some more.

There is no need to get fancy against this Duke defense. They are better than in the past, but in no shape this late in the season to handle the perpetual onslaught of the triple option.

As long as they dominate the ball, they come out with a win. Expect a high scoring affair, at least for the Jackets.