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Motivation + Better Coach = Duke Bowl Winner

You would be hard pressed to find a better football coach than David Cutcliffe, who has guided Duke to its second consecutive bowl appearance for the first time in school history. Cutcliffe also led Duke to its first ten-win season, as well as capturing the ACC Coastal Division title.  Moreover, Duke could not be more excited to be playing in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl against Texas A&M as the Blue Devils want to atone for their 45-7 loss to Florida State in the conference championship game.  “What people are seeing right now is that we got beat really bad by Florida State, and maybe they’re thinking, ‘Well, Duke can hang in with most teams but not with that top tier,”‘ linebacker Kelby Brown said. “I think no one would argue that Texas A&M isn’t one of those top-tier teams, so it’s another chance for us to show that we belong up there.”

Meanwhile, it’s hard to believe that Texas A&M, who had BCS aspirations before suffering consecutive losses to LSU (34-10) and Missouri (28-21) to end the regular season, will be excited to be playing in tonight’s Chick-Fil-A Bowl.  The issue that has plagued the Aggies all season is a defense that yielded 33.2 points per game on the road at 5.5 yards per rush play, 8.3 yards per pass attempt and 6.7 yards per play.  Overall, Texas A&M is yielding 460 total yards per game on 6.2 yards per play this season, which is the worst among this year’s bowl teams.  The other concern surrounding Texas A&M is the fact that it has lost the stats in each of its last three games, and now the Aggies face a Duke attack that is 9-1 SU with Anthony Boone behind center.

Duke’s success on offense begins with one of the most experienced offensive lines in college football (113 career starts) that paved the way for 174 rushing yards per game at 4.5 yards per carry.  Duke’s offensive line only allowed sixteen sacks this season (3.7%), which was the best performance in two decades.  Pro Edge also likes the fact that the Blue Devils possess outstanding special teams as return men Jamison Crowder and DeVon Edwards combined for four touchdowns in 2013.  Meanwhile, placekicker Ross Martin was 2-of-3 on field goals of over 50 yards this season so he certainly has the leg to convert from a distance.

From a technical standpoint, Duke was 5-2 ATS versus bowl teams this season and is currently on a 5-0 ATS run as underdogs.  Let’s also note that ACC bowl teams are 17-4-1 ATS following a loss, including 12-1 ATS when getting 3.5 or more points.  Pro Edge also likes the fact that bowl underdogs of seven or more points who lost their conference championship game are 6-1 ATS.  Coach Cutcliffe is 3-1 SU and ATS as a bowl underdog and will have the Blue Devils ready to go toe-to-toe with Texas A&M.  Pro Edge Sports really likes Duke +12 in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.

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