David Cutcliffe has a good thing going with the Duke Blue Devils. In the last three seasons Cutcliffe has won 25 games, and it doesn’t appear things will be slowing down any time soon. Returning 12 starters is always a good thing when looking for consistency within a program, although key pieces like quarterback Anthony Boone, play-maker Jamison Crowder and guard Laken Tomlinson have departed.

The Blue Devils’ 19 wins from 2013-2014 is the best two year stretch in school history, and the boosters showed their support by upgrading stadium and player facilities. The odd track lining at Wallace Wade has been removed, which allows for closer seating to the field, and a luxury box tower is also currently under construction.

The holes Cutcliffe has to fill are glaring, but a bulk of the program familiar to his system is intact. Expectations are high around campus. With somewhat of a pedestrian schedule this year, the table is set for Duke to make a serious run and perhaps grab an upper-tier bowl berth.

Last Season
ACC (Coastal)
Record
ATS Record
Over/Under
Points For
Points Against
2nd
9-4
9-4
4-8
32.4
21.8
2015 Schedule
Date Opponent Spread (Est.) Win Chance
9/3 @ Tulane -17 1
9/12 NC Central -28 1
9/19 Northwestern -7 0.70
9/26 Georgia Tech +10 0.23
10/3 Boston College -3.5 0.61
10/10 @ Army -17 1
10/24 @ Virginia Tech +3 0.43
10/31 Miami (FL) -3 0.57
11/7 @ North Carolina -3.5 0.61
11/14 Pittsburgh -6.5 0.68
11/21 @ Virginia PK 0.50
11/28 @ Wake Forest -14 0.85
Estimated Wins: 8.18

Duke kicks things off against a soft opponent in Tulane on the road. Favored by a closing number of -16.5 last season, Duke won at home 47-13 against the Green Wave. It’s then four home contests for the Blue Devils, with NC Central up first. Duke gets Northwestern in week 3, easily their toughest non-conference game this year. Georgia Tech is on deck, and this game could be a tough one considering the Yellow Jackets have this game circled on their schedule after a 31-25 upset last year in Georgia. Boston College wraps up this four game home stand as a nationally televised contest at Army is next. Duke gets a break here with a traditional bye week and then it’s conference play the rest of the way. Three straight conference teams that beat Duke last season are lined up this year as Duke travels to Virginia Tech (16-17) then comes back home to face Miami (10-22) before playing in-state rival UNC (20-45) across tobacco road (all final scores from last season’s games). Duke also closes out this season with three conference teams that the Blue Devils earned victories over last year in Pitt (51-48), UVA (20-13), and Wake Forest (41-21).

It’s safe to say the Blue Devils can control their destiny. A rematch against Georgia Tech looks daunting for Duke, but not having to play FSU or Clemson will definitely open up the possibilities of a 5-3 or even a 6-2 conference record. With an incredibly soft non-conference schedule, Duke will need to run the table in that portion to be considered a contender in this half of the conference.

Roster Breakdown

Junior Thomas Sirk has emerged out of camp looking to take over as the quarterback in the 2015 campaign. He’s a physical quarterback who could use some work on polishing his throwing skills, but a solid choice overall. Losing Jamison Crowder will be tough, but waiting in the weeds could be Max McCaffrey if Sirk stumbles early. Redshirt freshman Chris Taylor has caught the eye of many coaches at Duke, and could be seeing the field in a backup roll as early as week 1.

The running game should be complimentary to the passing game with a three-headed horse in Jela Duncan, Shaun Wilson and Shaq Powell lining up in the backfield. Duncan’s returning from an academic suspension and Powell ran for 618 yards last season. Expect these two power runners to blend well with the speedy Wilson.

The offensive line is in next-man-up mode with the departure of quality veterans and a four-year starter in Laken Tomlinson, who now will be playing on Sundays. Duke’s recruiting class in this department has been somewhat of a focal point for Cutcliffe and company, so decent talent up front should be available.

The strength of the Blue Devil’s defense starts with the secondary. Duke is returning all five starters, all with a tendency to be ball-hawks. Jeremy Cash and DeVon Edwards are two proven safeties that will terrorize opposing quarterbacks.

The strength of the secondary will have to compensate for the front seven. Linebacker Kelby Brown, one of the ACC’s elite defenders, suffered another knee injury this summer and is out for the 2015 campaign. Little brother Kyler Brown hopes to fill his shoes and attempt to play a stand-up defensive end position that can drop back in coverage. Carlos Wray is the only other front seven returning starter, but hopes are high for interior linemen Edgar Cerenord and Quaven Ferguson.

Odds
Regular Season Win Total
ACC Championship Odds
National Championship Odds
7
+3000
+50000
Odds Courtesty of Bovada
Season Predictions

The over could be easily obtainable for the Blue Devils considering their somewhat soft schedule. Worst case scenario Duke goes 3-1 in their non-conference portion and then they get conference games against teams like Pitt, Wake Forest and UVA, all teams projected to have sub-par seasons.

The player personal is there, the coaching staff has a solid game plan and the support of boosters, and fans are at an all-time high. If Duke can ride the wave of momentum, we could see another 8+ win season.

A slight regression from last year is also expected for Duke entering this season. I have their season win total falling right on the number, so it’s merely a hopeful lean that the Blue Devils pull off the over this season.

2015 Projections
ACC (Coastal)
ACC Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
4th
4-4
7-5
OVER 7

I asked a few more experts on Duke football what they thought about the Blue Devils’ upcoming season. Here’s what they had to say.

asawins

ASA
ASAWins.com

UNDER 7 Wins – The Devils are coming off a nine-win season but we think a fairly significant drop is in order. Their offense loses QB Boone along with most of their key weapons. They have scored 32 PPG in each of the last three seasons but we expect drop off this season. Duke’s defense allowed just 22 PPG yet teams put up an average of 400 YPG on them so they may have been a bit “lucky” on that side of the ball to hold opponents to low numbers on the scoreboard. They do avoid both Florida State & Clemson with their cross over games but half of their games are on the road this year. We think Duke may get to seven wins this year if things fall into place, but they’ll have a hard time getting over that number.

Tim Nolan

Tim Nolan
RedDogSports.net

OVER 7 Wins – The Duke Blue Devils have won 19 games in the past two seasons. They are coached by David Cutcliffe, who is known as a quarterback mentor. Duke does lose quarterback Anthony Boone but junior Thomas Sirk has plenty of potential to replace him. Both Shaquille Powell and Shawn Wilson return at running back and they combined for close to 1200 yards rushing back in 2014. Receiver Max McCaffrey is back and he had 37 catches for 385 yards. Center Matt Skura has a chance to be all-conference.

On defense, they return their entire secondary. The schedule is not too difficult. The non-conference teams they play are Tulane, Northwestern, North Carolina Central and Army. They could easily win all four of those.

In the ACC, they avoid Clemson, Florida State and Louisville. At home they play Boston College (expected to win just five games by the oddsmakers), Georgia Tech (seven wins), Pittsburgh (six wins) and Miami (only expected to win five games). On the road, they face rival UNC (eight wins), Virginia Tech (eight wins), Virginia (four wins) and Wake Forest (three wins).

I think we see Duke win eight games this year so my suggestion is to play over seven victories in 2015.

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