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Keys to victory: Duke at Virginia

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Virginia linebacker Noah Taylor, right, causes Duke running back Mataeo Durant  to fumble the ball during a game at Scott Stadium.

Keys to victory for Saturday's ACC Coastal Division matchup between Duke and Virginia.


■ Take advantage of Duke’s defense: The Blue Devils sit at the bottom of most major defensive categories. UVa has one of the more explosive offenses in the ACC, racking up more than 500 yards per game. On paper, it’s a phenomenal matchup for the Cavaliers. UVa should flirt with scoring 40 points in this game, assuming the offense executes well.

■ Crowd the box: Duke running back Mataeo Durant is the team’s best offensive player. While UVa has often used defensive looks with five defensive backs this fall, taking one of those guys out for an additional linebacker might be a smart idea this weekend. The Cavaliers' focus should be on slowing Duke’s rushing attack. Blue Devils quarterback Gunnar Holmberg likely isn’t winning a high-scoring shootout against Brennan Armstrong and UVa’s offense.

■ Play a decent third quarter: In ACC play, UVa has been outscored 69-28 in the third quarter. The Cavaliers have been dreadful defensively to open the second half in recent weeks, and they need more consistent play in the third quarter to make a legitimate run at the Coastal Division crown.


■ Take care of the football: Duke threw five interceptions in a loss to UVa last season. The Blue Devils also threw five interceptions against UVa in 2016. For whatever reason, Duke has turned the ball over at an alarming clip against Bronco Mendenhall’s UVa teams. Limiting turnovers should be a top priority for the Blue Devils.

■ Feed Durant: Running back Mataeo Durant will have UVa’s full attention this Saturday, but that doesn’t mean the Blue Devils should shy away from giving him the ball. UVa has allowed a rush of 50 yards or more in all four of its ACC games, and the group allows nearly 250 rushing yards per game to ACC foes. Duke should give Durant the ball until UVa proves it can stop him.

■ Get off the field on third down: UVa is third in the ACC in third-down conversions, succeeding on 48.9% of its attempts. Duke’s defense allows an ACC-worst 44.6% of third-down plays to result in first downs. For Duke to upset UVa, the Blue Devils need to perform well on third down.


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