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Virginia Cavaliers vs. Duke Blue Devils Prediction and Preview

Virginia Cavaliers vs. Duke Blue Devils Prediction and Preview: Bryce Perkins

Virginia Cavaliers vs. Duke Blue Devils Prediction and Preview: Bryce Perkins

This year's Virginia-Duke matchup brings a bit of excitement since both the Cavaliers and Blue Devils are both coming off wins in their last game. Virginia pulled off a 16-13 upset victory over the Miami Hurricanes, while Duke was able to handle the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on the road 28-14.

Virginia leads the all-time series over Duke 36-33, as the Cavaliers have won three straight in the series.

Virginia at Duke

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 20 at 12:30 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network
Spread: Duke -7.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Duke quarterback Daniel Jones
Last week in the Blue Devils victory over the Yellow Jackets, Jones had a solid game as he threw for 206 yards, three touchdowns to one interception. Against Virginia this week, Jones will need to play similarly against a team he hasn't had much success against in the past.

Jones is 0-2 against Virginia since head coach Bronco Mendenhall took over in 2016. In those two games, Jones has thrown two touchdowns against seven interceptions.

Since missing two games because of a broken clavicle, Jones has performed well this season as he has registered 821 yards passing yards and eight touchdown passes to just two interceptions. The Blue Devils will need Jones to be at his best to beat a tough Cavaliers defense.

2. Virginia's defense

In the upset win over Miami last week, Virginia's defense was able to record three interceptions of quarterbacks N'Kosi Perry and Malik Rosier. They also held the Hurricanes offense to just 13 points and 4-for-11 on third down conversions.

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After securing the victory over the Hurricanes, the Cavaliers defense will need to be equally as good to slow down Jones and the Blue Devils offense. Jones has a quarterback efficiency rating of 123.00 or higher in all four of the games he has started this season.

Virginia's Bryce Hall is first in the ACC and third in the nation in passes defended as he has 12 on the year. Hall and the Cavaliers defense need to find ways to slow down and confuse Jones.

3. Duke linebacker Joe Giles-Harris

Against the Yellow Jackets, Giles-Harris was able to register 15 tackles as he helped hold Georgia Tech's offense to 229 rushing yards on the afternoon in the win, which was 144 below its season average. Giles-Harris is fourth in the ACC in tackles per game (8.33), and that will be important against a mobile quarterback in Bryce Perkins.

In the win against Miami last week, Perkins didn't do a lot with his arm as he threw for 92 yards and three interceptions. However on a few key plays, Perkins was able to keep the chains moving with his legs as he had 61 yards on the day. Giles-Harris and the rest of the Blue Devils defense will have to be aware of Perkins at all time.

Final Analysis

Saturday should be a fun, exciting game between Virginia and Duke. What it will come down to is how each quarterback plays. Daniel Jones is the more polished of the two quarterbacks, and he should be able to make plays in the air and with his legs against a Virginia defense that wasn't tested against two mediocre quarterbacks from Miami last week.

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Defensively, the Blue Devils have 52 points off turnovers, including 21 against the Yellow Jackets last week. Also, Duke's defense has held opponents to six passing touchdowns through six games, which is tied for the third fewest in the ACC.

While Saturday should be a close, contested game, the Blue Devils should have the slight edge because of Jones and their defensive unit.

Prediction: Duke 27, Virginia 24

— 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.