Prediction Friday – Duke

Will the Cats be singing U! RAH! RAH! at Ryan Field this week?

The ‘Cats are off to a great start after a win in West Lafayette last week. While we didn’t score in the 2nd half and Fitz was doing some weird QB rotation, Thorson looked pretty good. Tomorrow’s game (bright and early at 11am Central) will hopefully serve as some redemption after last year’s brutal loss on Blue Devil soil. Warriors split the ticket on who will win this one with Day and Roche predicting a Duke win. Let’s hope they’re wrong.

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
nulogo nulogo nulogo nulogo nulogo

Everyone gets a win for last week’s predictions. Roger is lucky Fitz didn’t decide to have Thorson come in 2nd in the QB rotation last week. He was also the closest in score prediction, expecting a 31-21 win (NU won 31-27).

Andy Trent Roger Roche Paul Hack ZVon
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Onto the predictions…

TRENT

Game Summary: I’m so tired of Duke. We’ve played them each of the last three years. Looking ahead, we play them again from 2021-2024. Enough already, they’re such an effing boring opponent. If David Cutcliffe is such a great Xs and Os coach why doesn’t he go diagram his way into a retirement home? Peyton Manning can go ahead and join him down there for all I care. Maybe work in the kitchen and cut. that. meat.

Looking at the game this year, I’m pretty worried about the Blue Devils. They ran the ‘Cats out of the building down in Durham last year, and looked pretty good as they beat up on Army last week. Daniel Jones is a super solid QB who can do it through the air or with his legs. Our secondary is going to have to play a hell of a game to contain him – unfortunately that was the weak spot of our team last week against Purdue. We’re going to give up some points, which means we’re going to need to score and keep scoring to win. It seems like Thorson and TJ Green are going to switch in and out again without any rhyme or reason as they did last week – not a great recipe for getting our offense in a rhythm. Winning the turnover battle saved us last week – feels like we’re going to need a bit of that luck again this week to pull it out.

The one piece I was very impressed with last week was our play on both lines – we held Purdue without a sack, and pressure from our D line forced Purdue’s QBs into some errant throws. If we can control the line of scrimmage again and force two turnovers or more, I think we can pull this one out. I also know Fitz has been showing the team tape of the blowout loss to Duke last year to get them fired up – that added motivation could put us over the top.

Final Score: ‘Cats win 33-31

Play of the Game: Jeremy Larkin jukes the Duke safety out of his pants and does a safety dance of his own in the end zone.

Player to Watch:The obvious choice would be the QBs, but I think it’s Larkin. I don’t think I’m overstating it when I say he’s our best player – kid was phenomenal last week against Purdue and carried us to the W. If he can avoid injury he’s going to do some big things this year.

Warrior to Watch:Hack – kid’s been playing hurt and was able to manage getting Rose the Van towed out of the lot this week for emergency surgery. Let’s see if/how he can hold his liquor on Saturday.

Other Game to Watch: USC @ Stanford. Fun matchup early in the season. I’ll cheat and also say UGA at South Carolina – a lot of pundits are on the other USC to pull the upset here. This one could have playoff implications.

HACK

Game Summary: All respect to David Cutcliffe, who is a genius but I’m going to start this summary off by stating some facts about Duke.

  1. Coach K pays his players.
  2. Coach K dyes his hair.
  3. The Cameron Crazies are all losers.

I have no idea what happened during this game last year, but I see a motivated Cats team coming out and punching Duke in the mouth from the start. Don’t get me wrong I expect both sides to score some points, but the Cats O line should neutralize the Duke front 7, while Daniel Jones should spend most of this game running for his life and probably several undeserved first downs. The Cats will drive and score on their first 3 possessions while Duke will walk away with only one score at the end of the 1st. It is at this point that TJ Green will enter the game and the Wildcat fan base will lose its mind.

I will be leading the Warriors in deep breathing exercises, but plan on having a backup plan(Fireball) if things go poorly. Shockingly, Green performs quite well and throws a touchdown on a fade to his cousin Bennett Skowronek. Duke scores again to make it 28-14 at the half. Cat’s O again decides that it’s not worth scoring touchdowns in the second half and Duke manages to score one touchdown for each team. Throw in some field goals and we have ourself a 14 point Cats win.

On TV, I’m excited to hear Beth Mowens and Joey Galloway, who I assume are calling this game.

Game Score: NU 38 – Duke 24

Play of the Game: Earnest Brown 4.0 blindsides Daniel Jones resulting in a fumble which Jordan Thompson picks up and returns 34 yards for a score.

Player to Watch: Paddy Fisher – His performance last week was strangely quiet. My guess is that Purdue made limiting him a key part of the game plan. He’s going to have a huge role this week in limiting Daniel Jones and RPOs.

Warrior to Watch: Rose – Will she recover in time for the game?

Other Game to Watch: Penn State vs Pitt – The Battle for Pennsylvania Who wants William Penn’s colony more? I’m quaking with anticipation!

ADAY

Game Summary: I’ve got a bad feeling about this. Duke pantsed us the last time we played. Fitz is threatening to be “cute” with his quarterback situation. Rose’s status is unknown for the tailgate. I want to think we’re gonna bring home the W, but my gut says otherwise. Jones picks apart our secondary and our offense loses steam (again). Duke is able to hold off a late drive and gets the road “upset.”

Final Score: Dook 31 – NU 28

Play of the Game: Larkin breaks a big one for a TD (57 yards to be exact) on 3rd and 1.

Player to Watch: Nate Hall – had a great game against Purdue, can he keep it rollin?

Warrior to Watch:  Rog – he’s gettin’ up there… can the old timer still hang?

Other Games to Watch: Georgia @ South Carolina – ranked conference game amirite?

ROCHE

Game Summary:  The Blue Devil skill players mostly return. Daniel Jones has his favorite receiver back, but his O-Line is mostly new. I liked the pressure the ‘Cats got on Purdue, and I hope they can cause Jones to make some bad decisions.

I still don’t think the ‘Cats pull it off. I don’t have enough faith in the QB by committee, and I think Jeremy Larkin’s gonna have a hard time finding running room.

I haven’t been to a game in a while – do they still do “Hands in the Air” to start the 4th quarter?

Final Score: Duke 30 – ‘Cats 24

Play of the Game: Jeremy Larkin short TD run just before halftime to tie it up.

Player to Watch: Anyone on the ‘Cats D-Line.

Warrior to Watch:  Andy. Our longest distance Warrior makes an appearance! How will the long flight affect his performance?

Other Games to Watch: Penn State vs Pitt – Hack, that was a solid Keystone State pun. We appreciate it here.

PAUL

Game Summary: I’m 1-0 when watching the Cats on TV this year and hopefully we’ll keep that streak alive. I will be back in Wooster, OH for my 10 year reunion so will be watching this one from the couch. This will be a tough one for the Cats, but I think they have their last loss fresh in their minds. Our last loss to a non-top 10 opponent was to Duke last September 9th – and it was a bad one 41-17. Look for the Cats to balance the run/pass game pretty well and hopefully the announcers won’t say “RPO” a billion times like the kooks on NBC did for last night’s Bird Game. Defense is going to come up huge here, holding the Blue Devils to just 10 points. While the offense will score some points in the second half (unlike last game), it will only be a B- game for Clayton and Co.

Final Score: ‘Cats 20 – Duke 10

Play of the Game: Larkin breaks a big one for a TD (56 yards to be exact) on 3rd and 1.

Player to Watch: Bowser. Needs to prove himself as a viable RB option.

Warrior to Watch:  Has to be Hack here. He served as chief nurse for Rose this week. Will his effort pay off? Will Rose rise from the dead? Saturday will mark the third day

Other Games to Watch:  MSU at ASU. Sparty will actually lose this one after a pitiful performance last week against Utah State.

ROGER

Game Summary:  For a fairly solid team that went 10-3 last year, I still have no idea how NU got so thoroughly whipped by Duke last season. The Cats played about as bad as possible (and were as unprepared as possible… shout out Fitz) while Duke played flawless football. I don’t expect either of those things to happen again this year. This one should be a tight battle throughout.

I was wrong last week. While Thorson started the game and had the offense humming, apparently the platoon was in the cards. I still don’t understand this. I’m not an orthopedic surgeon (though I know one…. shout out to Mr. Hack), but I feel like one’s ability to play football post ACL surgery is binary. You’re either cleared or you aren’t. Can endurance be an issue with an injury like this? Seems strange.

As for the game…… I really don’t expect a ton of points in this one. Duke has a very good defense (they were one of the best in the country last year, surprisingly…. look it up). NU’s defense will look better this week despite some injuries to the DTs because Duke doesn’t have a 5 star receiver who runs like a gazelle. That said, they do have a dual threat QB – Daniel Jones. He doesn’t have quite the arm of Elijah “Joey” Sindelar, but he’s also not likely to throw 3 picks in the first half.

The Cats will defer the kick. Duke will put together a quality drive and miss a FG. Then, the Cats will do the same except Chuck Koobs will make a 36 yarder. Then, we’ll start seeing Fit’z platooning at QB reindeer games (probably on the 2nd drive of the game instead of the 3rd). We’ll all get pissed. The offense will stagnate for most of the game. Thankfully, the defense will do a lot of bending but not breaking.

I fully expect us to be worried like hell at some point in the 4th quarter. But, I have confidence that Clayton will take the field with an opportunity deep in the 4th and get it done.

Final Score: NU 20 – Duke 17

Play of the Game: Clayton Thorson engineers a late 4th quarter TD drive capped by a Cam Green TD catch.

Player to Watch: Thorson – Will he play the majority of the game this week?

Warrior to Watch: Rusty – What a performance from the guy this week. He got new wheels put on the damn van. What else can you say?

Other Game to Watch: Oklahoma – UCLA. OU should win easily, but I’m curious if they actually do. If they do then they are probably legit and I will fully expect them to win out in a suspect Big 12.

ZVON

Game Summary:  On Vacation.

Final Score: Cats 27 – Duke 23

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