Clemson vs. Duke prediction

by - Senior Writer -
Clemson vs. Duke prediction

The Clemson Tigers continue their march toward a meaningful bowl game with a trip to Duke this weekend, a night game against the Blue Devils that isn’t only rare, it’s the first time in the history of the series that the two teams have played under the lights.

The Blue Devils still have a shot at the Coastal Division title in the ACC, and they’ve played well at home this season, including a big win at home a few weeks ago over North Carolina in a night game. The Blue Devils are 5-0 at Wallace Wade Stadium this year, matching the school record for home victories in a season.

Duke is coached by David Cutcliffe, who knows a thing or two about offense, and there is no doubt that Clemson will get Duke’s best shot.

WHAT: No. 9 Clemson at Duke
WHERE: Wallace Wade Stadium (33,941) - Durham, N.C.
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, Kickoff at 7:05 p.m.



As good as Clemson’s offense looked at times last week against Wake Forest, the Tigers were never really able to establish a running game with Andre EllingtonAndre Ellington
RS Sr. Running Back
#23 5-10, 195
Moncks Corner, SC

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. The push by the offensive line was lacking, and center Dalton FreemanDalton Freeman
Gr. Center
#55 6-5, 265
Pelion, SC

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admitted this week that opposing defenses are doing everything they can to confuse Clemson’s young offensive linemen. This week, offensive coordinator Chad MorrisChad Morris
Offensive Coordinator / QBs
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will want to establish the run, and it should come a little easier against a Duke front seven that has struggled with stopping the run, ranking 68th nationally. Safety Walt Canty – from nearby Roebuck – leads the Blue Devils and is fifth in the ACC with 80 tackles, while safety Jordan Byas is second on the team with 59 tackles. Another defensive back, cornerback Ross Cockrell, is third with 50 tackles. That means a lot of runners are getting to the third level, and it would be great to see the Tigers rely more on Ellington and less on quarterback Tajh BoydTajh Boyd
RS Jr. Quarterback
#10 6-1, 225
Hampton, VA

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this week. Like Wake Forest, the Blue Devils like to play a lot of man coverage on the outside with one safety over the top, something the Tigers exploited against Wake Forest last Thursday as Sammy WatkinsSammy Watkins
So. Wide Receiver
#2 6-1, 205
Fort Myers, FL

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set a Clemson record with 202 receiving yards, while Boyd also set a program record with 426 yards through the air. It will be interesting to see if Duke plays a little softer this week, forcing the Tigers to hit more of the underneath routes instead of the big plays over the top. Last week against Florida St., the Blue Devils stayed true to form and gave up 560 total yards to the Seminoles. This week might be more of the same… in conference games, the Blue Devils are giving up 212 yards per game on the ground and 259 yards per game through the air.



The big question for Duke this weekend is who will be taking the snaps behind center. Starting quarterback Sean Renfree hasn’t exactly been healthy this season, and he took another shot last week that left him with concussion-like symptoms. He has been cleared to play, but how much and if he plays is still to be determined. If Renfree can’t go, backup Anthony Boone has been steady if not spectacular, and he has taken snaps in every game this season. Renfree’s main target is wide receiver Conner Vernon, who is already the all-time receptions leader in ACC history. He needs just 81 yards to break Peter Warrick’s all-time receiving yards record of 3,517 yards, something he might just accomplish against the Tigers. Vernon leads Duke with 54 catches for 761 yards and has five touchdowns. Right behind Vernon is Jamison Crowder, who has 53 receptions for 645 yards and five scores, while Desmond Scott has caught 45 passes for 453 yards and a touchdown. All three rank in the top 20 in the ACC, and they face a Clemson secondary that has been beat up and beaten up at times this season. The Blue Devils force defenses to tackle in space, another area in which Clemson has struggled. The Tigers have gotten a better push up front in recent weeks and have eight sacks over the past two games, and will have to have that kind of push if they want to stop Vernon and company. The Blue Devils haven’t had a lot of success running the football - freshman Jela Duncan has a team-high 385 yards and is second with four touchdowns, while Josh Snead has 291 yards and a pair of scores. The Tigers have gotten outstanding play at linebacker recently with Spencer ShueySpencer Shuey
RS Jr. Linebacker
#33 6-3, 230
Charlotte, NC

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’s move to starting middle linebacker, and Tig Willard has been a tackling machine. Renfree isn’t a threat to run, but Duke will use Boone out in space.



Clemson kicker Chandler CatanzaroChandler Catanzaro
RS Jr. Punter / Kicker
#39 6-2, 195
Greenville, SC

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had his streak of 20 consecutive field goals snapped last week against Wake Forest, and as funny as this might sound, it might be a good thing in that it takes the pressure off in trying to keep the streak alive. Now, he can just go out and kick, and there is no doubt that he is a major weapon in Clemson’s arsenal. The Tigers seem to have found their guy in punt returner Adam HumphriesAdam Humphries
So. Wide Receiver
#16 5-11, 190
Spartanburg, SC

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, who has great hands and instincts. The Blue Devils are the second-worst team in the country in punt return defense and 75th in kickoff return defense, and the Seminoles had 122 punt return yards last week. For the Blue Devils, Lee Butler has returned 11 punts for 187 yards and a score, while Tim Butler has returned 13 kickoffs for 260 yards. Duke punter Will Monday averages 44.5 yards per punt and leads the conference in that category. Duke kicker Ross Martin has hit on 14-of-16 attempts this season. I like Clemson here, simply because the Tigers have been better in recent weeks in kickoff return defense and Sammy Watkins seems to be rounding into form.



Duke’s offense will give the Clemson defense all it can handle, and that means Clemson’s offense can’t have the turnovers that plagued the team at the end of last season. One sure-fire way to keep Duke in the game will be to turn the ball over, get behind and get the crowd fully invested in the game, much like what happened at N.C. State last season. However, these Tigers seem to have matured, especially Boyd, who threw the ball away twice last week on Clemson’s first two possessions, showing his growth and maturity. I don’t have any doubt that Duke will throw some points on the scoreboard, but the Tigers have scored at least 37 points in seven consecutive games, and this one won’t be any different. If the Tigers can get ahead and the Clemson pass rush can tee off on either Renfree or Boone, it could go a long way towards stopping Duke’s attack. And, I go back to the fact that Duke has played two teams with solid offensive talent this season, and lost 50-13 to Stanford and 48-7 to Florida St. This one will be slightly higher-scoring for Duke, but the outcome will be the same.




Mickey Plyler - 6-9AM on WCCP 104.9FM EST - 41-27 Clemson
Dan Scott - Charter TV on Wed at 9:00pm EST - 49-24 Clemson
El Swann - TigerNet Talk - 52-24 Clemson
David Hood - Senior TigerNet writer - 48-24 Clemson
Pigskin Prophet - 52-20 Clemson


GameActualDavid HoodMickey PlylerDan ScottEl SwannPigskin Prophet
Auburn26-19 CU30-23 CU31-17 CU30-21 CU27-14 CU27-12 CU
Ball St52-27 CU47-20 CU44-21 CU52-21 CU49-10 CU48-23 CU
Furman41-7 CU52-17 CU52-17 CU-55-13 CU46-13 CU
FSU49-37 FSU37-31 FSU30-27 FSU31-28 CU31-27 CU34-30 FSU
BC45-31 CU37-23 CU38-23 CU38-21 CU42-17 CU45-33 CU
GT47-31 CU47-30 CU41-31 CU38-35 CU28-27 GT48-31 CU
VT38-17 CU44-31 CU38-20 CU41-27 CU42-30 CU34-24 CU
Wake42-13 CU41-17 CU38-24 CU34-31 CU45-17 CU45-31 CU
Points - 14109912

* Points: 3 pts for best prediction of the week (tiebreaker is Clemson score), 1pt for picking the correct winner

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