MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Duke plays the first of two straight road games and faces its final non-Power Five Conference opponent of the season Saturday when it visits Middle Tennessee. The Blue Devils and Blue Raiders have taken similar roads to get to this point with both suffering lopsided defeats to top 10 teams followed by blow out wins over FCS opponents.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, No TV. LINE: Duke -6.5
The Blue Devils and Quentin Harris proved no match for No. 2 Alabama in a 42-3 defeat but got back on track as the senior signal-caller threw for 345 yards and four touchdowns - all of which covered 22 or more yards - against North Carolina A&T. Harris was also efficient on the ground, rushing for 83 yards on 13 carries and he and running backs Deon Jackson, Mataeo Durant, Brittain Brown and Jaylen Coleman should be able to find openings against a Middle Tennessee defense that has permitted 440 rushing yards and four touchdowns in two games. "We have the ability to go from triple option to spread to empty backfield. I think that creates a lot of problems for the defenses," Harris told the media. "The more versatile we can be, the more chances we give ourselves for success." In his second career start, Asher O'Hara became the first quarterback to throw for at least 300 yards and rush for at least 100 in a game for the Blue Raiders, who fell 40-21 to No. 10 Michigan before beating Tennessee State 45-26.
ABOUT DUKE (1-1)
The defense, which features a pair of ends in Tre Hornbuckle and Victor Dimukeje that have a combined 34.5 career tackles for loss, has done a good job of beating blocks and getting into the backfield, but the Blue Devils have only three sacks as the opposing quarterbacks have been able to escape pressure. Linebacker Koby Quansah has one of the sacks, three tackles for loss and is second on the team in tackles (16) while tackle Trevon McSwain also has a sack and 2.5 tackles for loss for the Blue Devils. Dylan Singleton leads the team in tackles with 21 out of his safety position for David Cutcliffe.
ABOUT MIDDLE TENNESSEE (1-1)
Ty Lee has gotten off to a solid start with nine receptions for 116 yards and one touchdown and the senior has a chance to take ownership of all three major career receiving records from former teammate Richie James. The Georgia native currently has 222 receptions for 2,653 yards, both of which rank third behind James (244 catches, 3,261 yards) and Kendall Newson (238 catches, 3,074 yards), and his career 22 touchdowns is tied for second with Kerry Wright - one behind James. Lee faces competition from teammates Jarrin Pierce (eight receptions for 100 yards and two scores), DJ England-Chisolm (two catches for 77 yards), CJ Windham (five catches for 76 yards) and Zack Dobson (three catches for 71 yards) for O'Hara's attention in the passing game.
1. The Blue Devils are 37-15 in non-conference games under Cutcliffe, including wins in 20 of their last 25 out of conference contests.
2. Lee has caught at least one pass in 42 straight games, which ranks second in school history behind Newson (43) and 12 behind Central Michigan's Bryan Anderson, who set the NCAA mark at 54 straight games.
3. Duke has won 53 of its last 93 games, one shy of matching its win total in 240 games between 1991-2011.
PREDICTION: Middle Tennessee 27, Duke 24