Duke has had some success after a bye week in the last six seasons and hopes the trend continues when it travels to West Point, N.Y. to take on red-hot Army on Saturday afternoon. The Blue Devils have suffered five straight losses after opening the campaign with four wins in a row, but is 5-1 after its last six bye weeks as it takes on Army’s triple-option offense that leads the nation in rushing.
“This team is talented,” Duke’s sophomore quarterback Daniel Jones, who threw for only 82 yards in the 24-3 loss to Virginia Tech on Oct. 28 before the break, told reporters. “We have a lot of winners in our locker room and people who are capable of getting this season back where it needs to go.” The Blue Devils’ defense, which is led by sophomore linebacker Joe Giles-Harris (86 tackles), will have to contend with a ground attack that rushed for at least 300 yards in seven of nine games and averages 365.4. The Black Knights have won five games in a row overall for the first time since 1996, but dropped a 13-6 decision at Duke last season with just 165 yards on the ground after losing to the Blue Devils 44-3 in 2015. “They’ve made it very difficult for us to move the ball the past couple years,” Army coach Jeff Monken told reporters. “It is going to take a great effort for us to win. Hopefully our guys are up for it.”
TV: Noon ET, CBS Sports Network. LINE: Duke -3
ABOUT DUKE (4-5): The Blue Devils have lost three of the games by seven points, but the rushing attack has averaged just 96 yards the past three contests and Jones owns five interceptions and three touchdown passes during the losing streak. Senior running back Shaun Wilson leads the ground attack with 586 yards and five scores while the top target for Jones is junior T.J. Rahming (47 catches, 579 yards). Giles-Harris is tied for 16th in the nation with 9.6 tackles per game and safety Jeremy McDuffie has picked off three passes for the Blue Devils, who allow 142.1 yards on the ground.
ABOUT ARMY (7-2): The rushing attack gets most of the headlines for the Black Knights, but the defense came up big last week to end Air Force’s 306-game scoring streak with a 21-0 road victory and has averaged 18.9 points against. Senior linebacker Alex Aukerman boasts six of the team’s 18 sacks and junior linebacker James Nachtigal has 73 tackles to lead Army, which is going to back-to-back bowls for the first time since 1984-85. Senior quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw had 265 yards rushing last week against Air Force to push his season total to 1,132 with eight touchdowns.
1. The Blue Devils are 19-2 in their last 21 regular-season, non-conference games.
2. The Black Knights have not completed a pass in four games this season and went 3-1 in those outings.
3. Duke is 13-10-1 against Army, but has won nine of the last 11 meetings.
PREDICTION: Duke 23, Army 21