CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – After a disappointing 17-9 road loss at Miami last Friday in which it drove inside the 25 on six occasions, Virginia will look to regroup when it hosts Duke on Saturday in a battle for first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal division. While the Cavaliers, who also had to settle for two field goals inside the 15 in a 35-20 loss to Notre Dame the previous week, have struggled to score, Duke has been scoring in bunches.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network. LINE: Virginia -3.5.
"When we're participating and playing good offense … that's what we're capable of being," Duke coach David Cutcliffe said after his team rolled off 38 unanswered points last Saturday in a 41-23 victory over Georgia Tech. "The thing that may be most difficult is to continue that. That's something great to work on. The opponents are going to get tougher. We have one of the best teams we will play by far next week, so we have a lot to work on and we have to find that 60-minute magic." Over its previous four games, the Blue Devils have strung together 24- (North Carolina A&T), 34- (Middle Tennessee State), 31- (Virginia Tech) and 27-straight (Pittsburgh) points. Virginia, which entered the Miami game ranked 19th, outgained the Hurricanes 326-265 and ran 20 more plays but could only manage three field goals by Brian Delaney; the defense gave up a 10-play, touchdown drive late in the contest after the Cavs had pulled within 10-9. "We've got to score in the red zone, that's plain and simple," senior quarterback Bryce Perkins said. "We had multiple drives to the red zone and not a single touchdown, so that's on us. That's the offense's fault. We had opportunities. We just didn't capitalize."
ABOUT DUKE (4-2, 2-1 ACC)
The Blue Devils, who outgained the Yellow Jackets, 268-93 heading into the break after Georgia Tech's opening score, have tallied 30-plus points in five straight games for the first time since 1989 (Army - 35, Maryland - 46, Georgia Tech - 30, Wake Forest - 52, North Carolina State - 35). Quentin Harris was 11-of-20 passing for 176 yards and rushed for his fifth touchdown this season, Deon Jackson added two short scoring runs and Mataeo Durant ran for 62 of his 74 yards in the first half, including a career-long 38-yard scamper in the second quarter. Defensively, Koby Quansah and Brandon Hill both had 11 tackles apiece, while Victor Dimukeje tallied a career-high three sacks on the day - the most against an ACC opponent since Phillip Alexander did so against N.C. State in 2003 - to earn ACC Defensive Player of the Week honors.
ABOUT VIRGINIA (4-2, 2-1)
Perkins threw for 252 yards on 25-of-42 passing and added 27 yards on the ground against the Wolfpack to become the eighth player in program history to record 5,000 career yards of total offense. Virginia's defense is second in the nation with 27 sacks (4.5 per game), 13th in rushing defense (93.5 yards) and 11th in total defense (277.2). Jordan Mack is tied for second in the ACC with six sacks - tied for third among FBS linebackers - while fellow linebacker Zane Zandier currently leads the team with 44 tackles for a team that leads the ACC in tackles-for-loss with 8.5 per game.
1. Virginia leads the all-time series 37-33 and has won four straight, holding Duke to 58 rush yards in last season's 28-14 victory.
2. Cavaliers WR Joe Reed is one of only two players in the nation with 400 kick return yards and a return average of 33 yards in FBS this season. He needs one yard on his next return to reach 2,700 for his career and is the only player in FBS history since at least 1976 with 2,700 career kick return yards and a career average of 28 yards per return.
3. Duke's Xander Gagnon blocked a punt against Georgia Tech and Javon Jackson scooped up the ball for the 14-yard TD return – Duke's first blocked punt for a touchdown since 2012.
PREDICTION: Virginia 21, Duke 16