Does Duke have a chance to beat Florida State when they travel to Tallahassee this weekend? Yes. Will they beat Florida State? Probably not.
The Blue Devils face their toughest challenge of the season a week removed from their greatest accomplishment of the season. Heading into the game against Florida State at 6-2 (3-1 ACC) and in sole possession of first place in the Coastal Division, you’d think that a battle between the two division leaders this late in the season would be a big deal; but it really isn’t.
Most have already chalked this game up to another Florida State blow out over Duke and for good reason. The Seminoles have the better team, the better athletes and the home field advantage.
Duke is playing with confidence though and as I wrote just the other day, it doesn’t matter if others don’t believe they can beat the Seminoles. It only matters if the Blue Devil players believe they can beat them.
It goes without saying that it would take a near perfect performance from Duke to beat Florida State and an equally less than perfect performance out of the Seminoles.
Sean Renfree will have the unenviable task of trying to avoid the Florida State pass rush led by Bjoern Werner and company. And the Seminoles aren’t likely to give up over 200 rushing yards to the Blue Devils like North Carolina did last week. And if Duke can’t run the ball effectively they are going to have to get something going in the air.
All that will be dependent on how well the Blue Devils offensive line protect their quarterback. Offensively Duke cannot turn the ball over and they can have a lot of empty possessions. They do not have to score on every drive but they have to move the chains and force the Seminoles offense led by EJ Manuel.
Manuel will be without one of his key weapons in Chris Thompson who was lost for the season after tearing his ACL injury, an injury that could end his career. Still as deep and good as the Seminoles are they have talented guys like James Wilder Jr. who will quickly fill in for Thompson.
The bottom line is as big a high as Duke is on right now it could very well come crashing down quickly in Tallahassee especially if Florida State gets out to a strong start. Duke isn’t equipped to counter punch with the Seminoles so they need a perfect start and a perfect finish.
I’d like to think Duke’s offense could score with FSU but I’m just not sure they can contest with the Seminoles defense. This game could be close but I just don’t think it is shapping up for a close game.
Last season some went as far as saying they felt Duke could compete if not beat an Florida State team that was not having its best year. That game ended in a blow out. And despite the fact this is Duke’s best team in 18 years even that team couldn’t handle the Noles in Tallahassee.
If Duke can somehow get a lead and keep the game close they have a chance but the Seminoles aren’t going to allow that to happen. They are just better, but again if the Blue Devils believe then anything can happen.
Ultimately though I fee like the Seminoles defense will put too much pressure on Renfree and the Blue Devils won’t be able to muster enough points. I think Ross Martin hits a few field goals and Duke gets a late touchdown but they are a little too over matched in this game.
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