Clemson vs. Duke: Expert Pick and Prediction – September 4, 2023
CLEMSON VS. DUKE: EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – September 4, 2023 —The fact that this game’s getting attention shows how much Duke overachieved last year. The Blue Devils slid in David Cutcliffe’s final three years, but Mike Elko had them one win away from reaching the ACC championship game in his first year in Durham.
That would have meant Clemson, which Duke hasn’t faced since 2018 and hasn’t beaten since 2004. Back then, the ACC had just nine teams, which meant everyone played everyone. But with divisions in play, Duke has only faced Clemson five times in 18 years.
Truth be told, nobody in Durham has minded too much having a Clemson-free schedule. The closest the Blue Devils have come since 2004 is 24 points, and the Tigers have only gotten stronger since then. Over the past five years, Clemson has gone 38-2 against ACC foes, losing only to N.C. State and Pittsburgh.
With Cade Klubnik now firmly entrenched as the starter at quarterback, Clemson’s offense is ready to roll. Can the Blue Devils keep up?
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(0-0 SU, 0-0-0 ATS)
(0-0 SU, 0-0-0 ATS)
When: Monday, September 4th at 8 p.m. EDT
Where: Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, N.C.
Public Bets: 61% on Clemson
Public Money: 76% on Clemson
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, correct as of August 30th, 2023.
Clemson vs. Duke In-Season Trends
So far, being an underdog is exactly the way Elko likes it. Last year, the Blue Devils were dogs six times and went 5-1 ATS and pulled three outright upsets. The only time Duke failed to cover was at Kansas, and that only by half a point.
Clemson historically isn’t great with big spreads. The Tigers are just 29-26-1 ATS in Dabo Swinney’s 16 years in charge, and they’ve gone 6-6 ATS in their past 12 road games. Against ACC foes, they’ve gone 9-8 ATS over the past two seasons and 2-5 ATS when the spread was 10 points or more.
Luckily, this game will be played after the worst of the weather is out of the way. Labor Day in Durham is set to be pretty disgusting, with highs hitting 96 and the heat index in the triple digits with high humidity.
The humid air will hang around, but temperatures should fall into a more reasonable level after the sun sets and the game kicks off. By kickoff, temperatures should hit the mid 70s.
As long as Klubnik takes care of the football and Will Shipley finds holes in the line, Clemson should be able to move the ball. Last year, turnover issues killed Clemson, which is why quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei is now at Oregon State. The Tigers went just 3-3 down the stretch last season, mainly because they went minus-4 in turnovers in those games.
Duke counts on Riley Leonard to make plays with both arm and legs, and he’s got plenty of experienced targets. The Blue Devils return 10 starters on offense and their top 10 pass-catchers from last year. Jalon Calhoun and Jordan Moore could provide an interesting matchup for Clemson’s veteran secondary.
Duke’s certainly a much deeper program than it’s been in past seasons. Whether it can hang with Clemson is a bigger question. These Blue Devils have shown they can compete with mid-range teams, but they haven’t seen a challenge quite like this.
However, as is usually the case with Clemson, the line feels a little too high. The Tigers should win the game, but 12.5 seems like it’s a little too generous. Ten points feels closer to the gap between the teams.