The Duke Blue Devils are riding high right now. Duke is sitting at 2-0 with wins over Army and Northwestern, and David Cutcliffe is on pace to have this team bowling once again. This team is looking to go undefeated in non-conference play, but to do that they must beat the Baylor Bears in Week 3 of the college football season and FCS NC Central before their ACC slate gets underway. Baylor is looking for the same undefeated non-conference start in Matt Rhule’s second season in charge, leading to a lot of intrigue in this one.
This contest in Week 3 will go down Saturday, September 15, 2018 at 3:30 p.m. ET at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas.
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Duke likely would have been at least a field goal favorite in this game per the CFB betting odds if quarterback Daniel Jones was healthy. However, Jones’ injury means that Baylor is likely to be a slight favorite on the CFB betting line in this one.
The total is going to be affected significantly by Jones’ injury too. It’s likely that the NCAAF betting odds will have the over/under four to five points lower than what it would have been if Jones were going to play.
Cutcliffe has to be shaking his head after receiving news on Sunday that two of his best players will be out significant amounts of time. The injury that has received the most attention is Daniel Jones’ broken clavicle. Jones had been the ACC’s leading passer up until he was injured, completing nearly three-quarters of his passes on the season. He is out indefinitely because of the injury, and we are unlikely to see him for at least the next four weeks.
That puts Quentin Harris into the spotlight. Harris only threw two passes in the Northwestern game and looked like a back-up quarterback. However, Cutcliffe is a quarterback whisperer and will design a gameplan that takes advantage of Harris’ strengths. Additionally, it’s not like Harris is completely inexperienced. He has seen a little bit of game action in each of his three years on campus, and that will keep him from being a deer in the headlights.
The more underrated injury was of the season-ending variety. Duke lost its best cover corner for the season last week as well. Mark Gilbert suffered a weird hip injury in the win over Northwestern, and that will leave a huge hole in the secondary. He led the ACC in interceptions last season, and he won’t be easily replaced.
Position to Watch
Through the first two games of the season, Baylor has alternated its quarterbacks. In the win over Abilene Christian, Jalan McClendon was the star. He went 10-13 for 173 yards with two touchdowns and looked to be the sharper of the two options.
However, Charlie Brewer was the main man last week against UTSA. After McClendon initially struggled, Brewer came in and went 23-34 for 328 yards with three touchdowns.
Rhule has alternated between the two in previous games, and it is likely we will see at least two series from both players against Duke. Duke’s secondary is vulnerable with the loss of Gilbert, and it’s likely Baylor looks to attack the Blue Devils through the air.
Free ATS Pick
These are two of the sharper minds in college football. Both coaches have had a lot of success despite not getting the five- or even four-star recruits that fuel other programs.
I like Baylor at home in this one though. The Blue Devils just lost arguably their best offensive and defensive players, and when that happens it usually has a multiplier effect. Duke will find it hard to fully focus on the task at hand this week, and Baylor will take advantage.
College Football Odds: Baylor 27, Duke 17
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