If you are looking for a game that the media is speaking nothing of, between two teams that are better than advertised, I think you found your ticket for this matchup between the Northwestern Wildcats and Duke Blue Devils. Duke is no longer just a basketball school. The Blue Devil basketball squad is of course much better in comparison on a national scale. But Duke has been fielding a competitive team that isn’t an automatic win for opposing teams. In fact, Duke played in the ACC Championship against Florida State in 2013, the eventual National Champions. Making it to the ACC Championship was the pinnacle of the football programs history. If I recall correctly, FSU was -14 or -14.5 point favorites in that game. Duke did about all it could to try and make it a game, but the talent discrepancy won it for the Seminoles. Just for getting to that game was an accomplishment for this program, though. Duke finished with a record of 9-4 last season to follow up their appearance in the ACC Championship a year prior. The Blue Devils came up unsuccessfully in the Sun Down against Arizona State for a 36-31 decision.
They’re off to a 2-0 start in 2015. Like a lot of teams at this point in the season, Duke hasn’t played the stiffest competition. They beat Tulane, 37-7, and then dismantled North Carolina Central, 55-0. A 55-0 stuffing of NCC isn’t the most impressive of victories, but they did what they had to do to get an easy win en route to week 3, where their tallest task yet stands in front of them. Northwestern isn’t a college football juggernaut, but they are always well prepared and come to play. Academically Northwestern and Duke are two of the finest schools in the country, today the football teams take center stage for an interesting affair.
Similar to Duke, Northwestern is off to a 2-0 start, so one team will be exiting with the first loss of the year on their resume. I don’t know if the Wildcats are ever going to surpass the big boys in the Big-10, they have a lot of challenges in front of them. Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Michigan, will always attract bigger recruits so it is an uphill battle for Northwestern. However, like I said, they always come ready to play and are always up for spoiling a schools season. I think this game will be a better game than expected with potentially a pretty good ending. Find my pick below.
Northwestern Wildcats vs. Duke Blue Devils College Football Pick
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Northwestern vs. Duke Pick:
Both teams are 2-0 but Northwestern gets the honor of having the most impressive win of 2015 thus far. It was actually a huge win for Northwestern. Defeating Stanford is no easy task, they are one of the better teams in college football. Perhaps not as good as they have been in the past, but they are still a good school. Northwestern had the luxury of taking Stanford on at home. This week they head on the road for the east coast. The Wildcats haven’t had to throw the ball much to start the season. They lean on Clayton Thorson, a redshirt freshman who is making the third start of his career. With a steady ground game and a formidable defense behind him, Thorson just has to limit the mistakes and let the game come to him. He hasn’t made many mistakes yet, failing to turn the ball over, and he also has a passing touchdown and 2 on the ground with his legs. Northwestern limited Stanford to just 6 points. That isn’t a mistake, their defense is really that good. They haven’t allowed a touchdown thus far, and held Stanford a power-running team to just 85 yards rushing.
Duke is 12th in the ACC in yards-per-carry despite playing against Tulane and North Carolina Central. They started off the first-half of last season hot on the ground, but slowly regressed. That has seemingly continued into 2015. Northwestern was 2nd in the Big-10 in touchdowns allowed. They also bested Ohio State for the better defense against the run. Duke has to get their running game going in this game, but it will be very tough. Duke relies on Thomas Sirk at quarterback, his first full season starting after four years with the team. He has looked good so far, tossing 5 TDs, but again, against Tulane an NCC. He will need a running game to get him out of this game. Catching 3.5 points with Northwestern and their defense looks like a good deal to me.
PICK: NORTHWESTERN +3.5 (-110)