Bowl Potential to Keep Duke Close vs. Wake Forest in ACC Finale

Jason Lake

Wednesday, November 22, 2017 11:12 PM UTC

Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017 11:12 PM UTC

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons have been a sneaky-good college football pick this season. Can the Deacs keep the train rolling Saturday against the visiting Duke Blue Devils?

Free NCAA Pick: Duke +12Best Line Offered: Bovada

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Duke Blue Devils at Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Dave Clawson has a good thing going in Winston-Salem. His Wake Forest Demon Deacons are the second-highest scoring team in the ACC, and they’re making tons of money at 7-4 SU and 8-2-1 ATS. But where’s the love? The Demon Deacons haven’t been in the AP rankings all year, yet they’re No. 24 on the F/+ Combined Ratings at Football Outsiders, and No. 18 on the Simple Rating System at Sports Reference (plus-12.73 SRS). Hardly seems fair.

Not that we’re complaining. If people weren’t overlooking Wake Forest, there wouldn’t be as much profit margin available to us. But will that margin still be there Saturday (12:30 p.m. ET, ACCNE) when the Deacs host the Duke Blue Devils? At press time, the Blue Devils (5-6 SU, 5-5-1 ATS) are 12-point puppies on the NCAAF odds board, down from +13 at the open, with our consensus reports showing over 60 percent of early bettors on Duke. Curious.

Tangled Up in Blue

Maybe the computers can point us in the right direction. ESPN’s Football Power Index likes Wake Forest to win about 70 percent of the time, which only translates to –7.5, according to the estimated probabilities at Wizard of Odds. Curious indeed. If we use the SRS numbers, Duke (plus-5.37 SRS) figures to be around a 7.5-point dog on neutral ground. At Groves Stadium, where the Deacs play at minus-0.40 Points Above Expectation (as per ESPN’s Brad Edwards and Seth Walder), the Blue Devils “should” check in at about +10.

That’s two sources telling us that Duke might belong in our college football picks. On Senior Day in Winston-Salem, no less. This isn’t a particularly good team at No. 67 on the F/+ ratings (although it's No. 46 according to SRS), and the Blue Devils already won their Senior Day game to halt a six-game losing streak at 0-5-1 ATS. Plus, starting safety Jeremy McDuffie is out after messing up his right knee last week.

Welp, there is one thing Duke has to play for: Bowl eligibility. That should keep the Blue Devils from folding their tents in Saturday’s matchup, and with both the computers and the early consensus on their side, we’re going to hop on board and recommend Duke for a small sum. Buy low, sell high, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.

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