The No. 8 Miami Hurricanes (3-1) finally hit the part of their schedule where they can relax-just a bit.
It begins when the Duke Blue Devils come to town on Saturday for the first time since 1976, when Duke won 20-7. But this is both a different Duke team and a much stronger Miami team.
The Blue Devils have been a perennial loser in football and are no different this year. With a current record of 1-4, they are coming off a loss at home to Navy 28-21. The lone win thus far was a 40-14 victory over Virginia Military Institute.
Duke’s offense has only averaged 17 points per game in its first five contests, and things could take a turn for the worse, like when big play wide receiver Jomar Wright was injured last weekend. He will be out indefinitely.
Under center for the Blue Devils is true freshman Zack Asack, who took over as the starter last week. In parts of two other games, Asack has done a solid job. He completed 23-of-33 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns. Asack also rushed for a touchdown.
On the ground, Duke hands the ball to Justin Boyle, who has averaged 55 yards and a touchdown per game.
After the Hurricanes last played the Blue Devils in 1983 and won 56-17, they went on to win their first national championship. Miami hopes to have the same luck this year and are riding a three game winning streak. The ‘Canes are coming off a 27-7 victory over USF in a game that saw UM squander many scoring chances.
Quarterback Kyle Wright has thrown for 821 yards and three touchdowns in his first four collegiate starts. While Miami has been paced on the ground by running back Tyrone Moss, who leads the ACC in touchdowns with six, it will look to attack a Duke defense, who gives up 30 points per game, through the air.
The Blue Devils give up plenty of points because of their opponents’ running and passing game has given them fits. Teams have averaged 157 yards on the ground and 165 through the air against Duke this season.
The Miami defense continues to dominate in all aspects of the game, ranked first in the nation when it comes to defending the pass. Lovon Ponder and Bruce Johnson each made the first starts of their careers against USF. Ponder finished with two interceptions.
With showers expected on Saturday at the Orange Bowl, Head Coach Larry Coker did not mind having some heavy rain during Tuesday’s practice.
“We needed to get some work in the rain because we really haven’t had that luxury,” Coker said. “So if we do get some rain on Saturday, at least we’ll have some preparation for it.”
The Hurricanes and Blue Devils meet at 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
Douglas C. Kroll can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.