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Duke vs. Virginia Football Prediction and Preview

Duke vs. Virginia (UVA) Football Prediction and Preview

Duke vs. Virginia (UVA) Football Prediction and Preview

After weeks of COVID-19 testing and postponed games, the Virginia Cavaliers will finally kick off their 2020 season on Saturday when they host the Duke Blue Devils.

Unlike the rest of the ACC, Virginia has been sitting and waiting to get their season underway. But COVID-19 put a kink in their plans, as games against Georgia, VMI, and Virginia Tech were all either postponed or canceled.

On the other hand, Duke has played in two ACC games and lost to both Notre Dame and, more recently, Boston College. In their 26-6 defeat to the Eagles, the Blue Devils turned the ball over five times, including four times in the red zone.

Virginia holds a 38-33 edge in the all-time series. In their last meeting also in Charlottesville, the Cavaliers rolled the Blue Devils 48-14 last season.

Duke at Virginia

Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 26 at 4 p.m. ET

TV: ACC Network

Spread: Virginia -5.5

When Duke Has the Ball

In his first two starts for the Blue Devils, Chase Brice has struggled. He has thrown for 476 yards and two interceptions while completing 54.4 percent of his passes. Brice, who transferred from Clemson, does have a rushing touchdown on the year.

"We have to take care of the ball," Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said. "Chase, I've got to put him in better positions. I think the temptation that he's got to resist is trying to force plays. He's a playmaker, but you can't force plays."

Deon Jackson, who had a big first half against the Notre Dame defense two weeks ago, will need to have a huge impact against the Cavaliers defense. If Duke can get the rushing attack going, that will take a lot of pressure off Brice and their passing attack.

When Virginia Has the Ball

The Cavaliers will have a new quarterback leading the charge this year as Brennan Armstrong set to take over for Bryce Perkins, who accounted for 67 total touchdowns, 6,210 passing yards, and 1,692 rushing yards during his two seasons at Virginia. Perkins also helped the Cavaliers to a 9-5 record last season and their first ACC Coastal Division title and a berth in the Orange Bowl.

Armstrong will face a depleted Duke secondary after Mark Gilbert and Josh Blackwell, were declared out indefinitely after undergoing surgery. Leonard Johnson, who has starting experience after the last two seasons, and Jeremiah Lewis, are expected to fill in for the two starters. Gilbert started both games for the Blue Devils this season as he registered eight tackles and intercepting one pass.

Armstrong will also have to careful to watch out for the Blue Devils pass rush, which also has nine sacks through two games. Defensive end Victor Dimukeje had 3.5 sacks against Boston College, which was the second-most in a game in Duke history.

Final Analysis

Duke's offense has given the ball away inside the red zone a ton through two games. Also, their defensive secondary is a significant question mark heading into this game. Add those two things up, and it is difficult to go against the Cavaliers.

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Although the Virginia offense won't look the same without Perkins, they should have enough offense to move the ball against a depleted Duke defense. If the Blue Devils can get the turnovers under control, they should have a chance for the upset. But that could be a tough task on the road.

Prediction: Virginia 24, Duke 17

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— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.