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Virginia Tech football: A look at the Duke Blue Devils

The Hokies have won the previous two meetings.

Duke v Virginia Tech
Duke vs. Virginia in 2017
Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images

The Virginia Tech Hokies look to get back to the winning side of things this week as they head south to take on the 22nd-ranked Duke Blue Devils. The Hokies, after last week’s monumental upset loss to Old Dominion, are unranked just as the unbeaten Blue Devils enter the top 25 for the first time.

Duke is led by David Cutcliffe, who is in his 11th season in Durham, and has an overall record of 63-67 at Duke. However, those numbers do not do him justice. The Blue Devils were an ACC laughingstock before Cutcliffe’s arrival. Since taking over, Cutcliffe has led the Devils to five bowl games and one appearance in the ACC title game.

Known as a quarterback guru, primarily for his work with Peyton and Eli Manning, Cutcliffe does his best work on the offensive side of the ball and has an excellent coaching staff around him. Despite numerous injuries on defense, it’s that side of the ball that has helped the Blue Devils get off to such a hot start. The Blue Devils are allowing just 15 points per game, which is second in ACC and 16th in the nation.

Duke’s schedule hasn’t been too imposing. Among Duke’s four victories are Army, Northwestern, Baylor and NCCU. Army has a high-powered rushing offense that the Blue Devils did good job against, allowing under four yards per attempt. And Baylor isn’t exactly the same Baylor team we remember when Robert Griffin III was under center.

The biggest question for Virginia Tech this week is which Duke quarterback will start? Junior Daniel Jones has recovered quickly from a broken collarbone and is expected to play if medically cleared. The Hokies are quite familiar with Jones, having faced him in past years. Quentin Harris would start if Jones is unable to play. Harris is athletic, but is completing less than 50 percent of his passes.

The Devils have a good pair of running backs in Brittain Brown and Deon Jackson. The pair have combined to rush for over 500 yards and five touchdowns.

The Hokies are 16-9 all-time against Duke. Since entering the ACC back in 2004, Tech is 12-2 against the Devils, however, the margin in most of those victories has decreased significantly since Cutcliffe took over. Duke won in 2013 and 2015, both times in Blacksburg. The Hokies won 24-3 last season.

How will the Hokies bounce back this week? I expect them to bounce back strong, however, winning in Durham is not going to be easy. Expect this one to go down to the wire regardless of who wins.