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Virginia (4-4) at Duke (2-6)



The Sports Network

DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 6th, 12:00 p.m. (et)

FACTS & STATS: Site: Wallace Wade Stadium (33,941) -- Durham, North Carolina. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Virginia 4-2, Duke 1-3. Away Record: Virginia 0-2, Duke 1-3. Neutral Record: Virginia 0-0, Duke 0-0. Conference Record: Virginia 1-3, Duke 0-4. Series Record: Virginia leads, 32-29.

GAME NOTES: Still searching for their first win in league play, the Duke Blue Devils will play host to the Virginia Cavaliers this Saturday afternoon in an ACC bout at Wade Wallace Stadium.

On the heels of a three-game slide, coach Mike London's squad managed to post back-to-back victories over Eastern Michigan (48-21) and more importantly over Miami-Florida (24-19). It was the fourth home win of the year for Virginia, which is now 1-3 in conference play.

As for the Blue Devils, they have not enjoyed any success in conference play, as the team in winless in four league matchups. However, coach Dan Cutcliffe's squad was able to snap its six-game slide this past weekend with a thrilling, 34-31 victory over Navy on the road.

In 2008 the Blue Devils snapped an eight-game slide against Virginia, and last year made it two straight with a 28-17 decision in Charlottesville. However, even with the two victories for Duke, the Cavaliers still own a slim 32-29 edge in the all-time series.

The Cavs scored all 24 of their points this past weekend against Miami, before the Hurricanes even cracked the scoreboard, and the team did most of its damage on the ground, running for 185 yards and two touchdowns. Keith Payne, who scored twice, led the team with 81 yards on 17 carries, while Perry Jones added 69 yards. Marc Verica has found some success under center for Virginia, throwing for 176 yards and one touchdown on 19-of-27 passing.

On the season the Cavs have been respectable in both rushing and passing, and come into this weekend averaging 3901. total ypg. Payne has been the main option out of the backfield for Virginia, as the tailback has 552 yards, while scoring 12 of the team's 13 rushing TDs. As for the passing attack, Verica has been solid for the most part, completing 59.2 percent of his passes. However, the signal caller has just nine touchdowns against seven interceptions.

What has hurt the Cavaliers this season has been their play defensively, which has been erratic. Virginia has shown flashes of improvement, both those small bursts are surrounded by mediocre or even lackluster efforts. The biggest issue for coach London has been the team's performance against the run, as opponents are gashing Virginia for 207.4 rushing yards per contest.

Against Miami, the Cavaliers might have been victorious, but the team still surrendered 448 total yards. Once again the team was overwhelmed on the ground, as the Hurricanes stormed through Virginia for 179 yards on 6.2 yards per attempt. However, what made it possible for the Cavs to win were the five interceptions the defense collected. It was definitely an impressive amount of takeaways for Virginia, which came into that matchup with just nine on the season.

The Blue Devils were in an offensive funk for a few games, but snapped out of it this past weekend against Navy. Duke used a balanced attack to slip past the Midshipmen, and it was easily one of the best efforts for this offense on the season.

The Blue Devils rushed for 142 yards and three scores, while adding another 314 yards through the air, to go along with another touchdown. Sean Renfree definitely had a game to remember, as the signal caller not only took care of the passing attack, but also found the end zone twice on the ground. Desmond Scott led the ground game with 42 yards, while Brandon Connette added 33 yards and one touchdown.

It was definitely a solid effort by Duke, which has otherwise been a disappointment offensively. The Blue Devils do not possess a main option out of the backfield, as Scott is leading the team with only 392 yards per game, and that would explain why as a team Duke is posting just 120.6 ypg. As for the Renfree, he has been the only real threat for Duke, but even he has struggled at times. The quarterback is averaging a robust 256.4 ypg via the pass, but has just 11 touchdowns against 15 interceptions.

To be fair the offense has enjoyed moments of success, but the same can not be said for the defense, which has been simply abysmal throughout the year. Coach Cutcliffe's unit has been unable to stop any opponent and teams are having their way with the Blue Devils on the ground, as well as through the air.

Duke, which is surrendering a whopping 37.8 ppg, has been gashed on the ground for 196.5 ypg and to make matters worse the secondary has been torched for 237.6 ypg. All that yardage has led to 36 touchdowns for the opposition, with 19 coming on the ground.

Against the Midshipmen the defense put forth mixed results, even though the team was victorious. Duke held Navy to just 148 yards and two scores on the ground, which is rather impressive considering Navy's thirst for running the football. However, at the same time Navy finished with 227 passing yards and two more touchdowns. Allowing a run-oriented team such as Navy throw for that many yards in a contest is simply unheard of, and it shows how badly this secondary has performed this year.

Both teams won this past weekend, but still come into this contest with different mindsets. The Cavaliers defeated a tough ACC opponent for their second straight win and are without question flying high. Meanwhile, the Blue Devils snapped their losing skid, but just narrowly defeated Navy to do so. Duke's defense has struggled this year, and even though Virginia is on the road, look for coach London's team to remain in the win column.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Virginia 31, Duke 27

11/03 10:34:35 ET