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As I discussed in last week’s analysis, Duke head coach David Cutcliffe is excellent against triple-option attacks. Indeed, the Blue Devils limited Army’s potent option scheme to a season-low 268 total yards last week and now face another option attack on Saturday (Georgia Tech). The scheduling could not be better for the desperate Blue Devils, who need to win their final two games to secure bowl eligibility.
Duke had a bye prior to last week’s game at Army and is now in its third week of practice in defending the option. Meanwhile, Georgia Tech is coming off an emotionally-satisfying 28-22 upset win over Virginia Tech as three-point home undergoes.
With that win in their pocket and an in-state affair against Georgia on deck, the Yellow Jackets find themselves in the dreaded letdown/look-ahead situation. This also marks Georgia Tech’s fourth road game in six weeks.
From a technical standpoint, Duke is 6-2-1 ATS in its last nine home games, including 4-0-1 ATS in its last five home affairs against teams with a winning road record. The underdog is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings in this series, while the Yellow Jackets are 2-5 ATS in their last seven clashes with Duke. The Blue Devils are also looking to avenge last year’s heart-breaking 38-35 loss in Atlanta and Cutcliffe will have his team extremely focused on making amends for that defeat.
Duke enters today’s game on a six game losing streak. However, four of those defeats were by one-possession so the Blue Devils have been competitive throughout their difficult ACC slate. Duke also applies to a very good 42-18 ATS (70%) contrarian system that invests on certain home teams off four or more consecutive against-the-spread losses versus opponents entering off one or more consecutive against-the-spread wins.
A cursory review of the Yellow Jackets statistics indicates that their prolific ground attack has been on decline over the last three games. Specifically, Georgia Tech is averaging 4.5 yards per rush attempt over the last three weeks, which pales in comparison to its 5.4 yards per carry average overall in 2017. Georgia Tech is also giving up 32.7 points and 409 total yards per game at 5.9 yards per play and 12.5 yards per point on the road this season.
Those results are far worse than the Yellow Jackets’ overall defensive numbers this season – 23.4 points and 325 total yards per game at 5.2 yards per play and 13.9 yards per point. I should also note that Georgia Tech is 0-5 SU outside of the friendly confines of Bobby Dodd stadium this year.
With Cutcliffe standing at 9-2 ATS versus teams within a ground game (i.e. averaging at least 4.75 rushing yards per game), take the Blue Devils as one of Oskeim Sports’ Free Football Picks for Saturday, November 18.
Free Football Picks for Saturday, November 18:
- Duke (+6.5) over Georgia Tech
- North Carolina State (+2) over Wake Forest
- Texas (+3) over West Virginia