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Troy (2-2) at Duke (2-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 28, 3 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Wallace Wade Stadium (33,941) -- Durham, North Carolina. Television: ESPN3.com. Home Record: Troy 0-0, Duke 1-2. Away Record: Troy 0-0, Duke 1-0. Neutral Record: Troy 0-0, Duke 0-0. Conference Record: Troy 0-0, Duke 0-2. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams attempting to snap two-game slides meet at Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday afternoon, as the Duke Blue Devils play host to the Troy Trojans.
Troy's season started off with a pair of home wins over UAB (34-31) and Savannah State (66-3), but its three-game road trip has not been kind to it thus far. After losing their Sun Belt Conference opener versus Arkansas State on Sept. 12 (41-34), the Trojans were blown out at Mississippi State last weekend, 62-7. They have now lost five straight road contests.
Just like Troy, Duke began the campaign in stellar fashion, earning a pair of wins at home against North Carolina Central (45-0) and at Memphis (28-14), but it too has slipped to .500 following two straight defeats, both of which have come to fellow ACC programs. The Blue Devils dropped a Sept. 14 bout to Georgia Tech (38-14), and then last Saturday lost a 58-55 barnburner to Pittsburgh in the highest-scoring loss in school history.
This matchup marks the first-ever meeting between Troy and Duke on the football field.
The Trojans own one of the Sun Belt's most potent offenses, scoring 35.2 ppg on 457.0 ypg, but they were stifled against Mississippi State last week to the tune of just seven points and 186 total yards.
Corey Robinson had the worst start of his four-year career versus MSU, completing 15-of-25 passes for 105 yards with a touchdown and an interception, but he's still in the midst of an outstanding season nonetheless (.724, 975 yards, eight TDs, four INTs). Robinson, already the SBC's all-time leading passer (11,233 yards), needs just eight more touchdowns to surpass Rusty Smith's record of 76.
Deon Anthony also sees his fair share of snaps under center. He is utilized mostly as a rusher (211 yards, two TDs), but he has completed 11-of-16 passes for 175 yards and a score. Jordan Chunn (136 yards, three TDs) and Brandon Burks (135 yards, TD) split the work load at running back.
Eric Thomas has reeled in 17 passes for 274 yards and is tied for second in the nation with six receiving touchdowns. Bryan Holmes (212 yards, two TDs) and Chandler Worthy (177 yards, TD) are also reliable targets for Robinson, as is Burks (16 receptions, 83 yards) out of the backfield.
The Troy defense (34.2 ppg, 421.0 ppg) had been playing relatively well until it imploded last week by allowing 551 yards and 62 points to MSU. The unit has forced just two turnovers through four games.
Camren Hudson is the team's leading tackler with 23 stops. Tyler Roberts has 4.5 TFL and 3.0 sacks, while Jadarius Garner is also a strong pass-rusher with 4.0 TFL and 2.0 sacks.
Duke enjoyed an offensive explosion versus Pitt last week, a performance that helped improve its already impressive stats (35.5 ppg, 436.0 ypg).
In just his third-career start, Brandon Connette threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for 101 yards and two more scores, but he has also thrown four interceptions. He's completing less than 62 percent of his passes for 698 yards with 12 total scores and five picks since stepping in for Anthony Boone, who is out indefinitely with a broken collarbone.
Jamison Crowder accounted for 279 all-purpose yards in the Pitt game and scored three touchdowns -- one rushing, one receiving, and one punt return -- making him the first Duke player to accomplish that feat since 1999. He's the ACC's leading receiver with 30 receptions for 381 yards and a touchdown, and he is one of the nation's most dangerous punt returners (19.8 yard average, two TDs).
Jela Duncan is the Blue Devils' most effective tailback with 220 yards and two touchdowns on 39 carries.
Unfortunately for Duke, its defense had no answer for Pittsburgh in last week's shootout, allowing nearly 600 yards of total offense. Prior to that lackluster performance, the unit had only given up 28 combined points through the first three games.
Kelby Brown and Jeremy Cash lead the way with 37 tackles apiece. Kenny Anunike has 5.0 TFL and 2.0 sacks, Dezmond Johnson has recovered two fumbles, and Ross Cockrell and Breon Borders each have an interception.
Both of these teams have quick-strike ability on offense and defenses that are shaken after recent poor performances, so a high-scoring affair should be on tap. Robinson has the experience advantage over his counterpart Connette, but the Trojans have not played up to their potential on the road. Expect Duke to surge back above .500 in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Duke 45, Troy 38
09/25 10:36:00 ET
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