Duke has had a long bye week to sit and dwell on the season that has been.
Most likely David Cutcliffe and the rest of the Duke coaching staff are refusing to think about the season that might have been, but surely the players are thinking about it just a little.
The Blue Devils are clearly making strides but at 1-4, 0-2 against the ACC, the record isn't showing it. When Miami comes calling on Saturday, Duke will be looking to pull off a season-changing upset over an ailing and angry Hurricanes squad.
No one gives Duke much of a shot in this one. For starters, Miami has more athletes and weapons and the Blue Devils young defense hasn't looked like it could stand up to a slight breeze much less a hurricane.
Still, with an entire week to prepare, and an offense with the potential of Duke's, one has to wonder--if it were any other team beside the Blue Devils, would they be given more upset consideration?
Duke's offensive weapons include three of the best receivers in the league in Donovan Varner, Conner Vernon and Austin Kelly. Each gives quarterback Sean Renfree a dangerous target.
Add in the fact that the Blue Devils have added a semblance of a running game and the formula is there for Duke to put up some points.
Last year in Miami, Duke gave the 'Canes a bit of a scare before Jacory Harris helped them pull away in the fourth quarter.
Some are predicting a similar game in Durham. This year, Harris is a bit gimpy with an injured groin and the 'Canes are reeling, coming off a smackdown at the hands of one of their biggest rivals.
If Duke's defense, which showed some marked improvements in its last game against Maryland, can put together a solid performance, and the offense can generate some points, then this game could be up for grabs.
Of course Miami isn't Maryland and anger can be a strong motivator, but if the Hurricanes come to town with even a hint of self-pity or complacency, then Duke could pounce.
Keys for Duke
Duke's offense has been sputtering and the defense has been giving up more points than some NBA teams.
The Blue Devils need to find balance and start clicking again. They have to take care of the ball and avoid turnovers and capitalize in the red zone--something they didn't do two weeks ago when four trips against Maryland resulted in three field goals and only one touchdown.
The defense has to do its part as well and try to force Miami into some 3rd-and-longs and force Harris, who is a bit banged up, to move out of the pocket and make tough throws.
Keys for Miami
Harris doesn't have to win this game with his arm. Miami can ground out an ugly win if they just run the ball against a Duke defense that can't seem to stop anyone.
As long as Miami executes and doesn't make mistakes that cost them, they should win.
Duke 35 Miami 30
Everyone else is picking Miami for good reason, so why not pick Duke? This isn't the same Duke team no matter what the schedule says. Miami is hurt in more ways than one and a lack of respect can be as much of a motivator, especially at home.