Welcome to a matchup of undoubtedly the two teams most deserving of a primetime matchup: the Duke Blue Devils, who just lost to Wake Forest by double digits, and the Northwestern Wildcats, who are 0-2 and lost to an FCS team last week. Let’s get to our picks. Make sure to add yours as well.
Zach Pereles - Northwestern 24, Duke 20
Don’t ask me for the logic behind this pick, because I don’t have any.
Will Ragatz - Duke 13, Northwestern 12
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, shame on both of us. I won’t let both of us be shamed, Northwestern. The #B1GCats fall to 0-3 with a total point margin of -4.
Sam Brief - Duke 17, Northwestern 13
I have no reason to believe Northwestern wins this game. Offensive line struggles continue, poor playcalling continues to plague Northwestern and the defense gives up just enough points to lose this game. Duke in a tight one.
Martin Oppegaard - Northwestern 17, Duke 15
It’s crazy how far both of these teams have fallen since they met in Durham one year ago. This is going to be really bad football, and for some reason I’m letting myself believe that Northwestern can win a game this year. Justin Jackson has two rushing touchdowns and the defense keeps Duke out of the end zone.
Josh Burton - Northwestern 20, Duke 17
Almost everything has gone wrong for Northwestern so far this season, including some terrible injury luck and unfortunate turnovers. Those factors shouldn’t hide the fact that the Wildcats have played very poorly in their first two games, but they indicate at least some of a bounceback in the near future. Duke, without quarterback Thomas Sirk, is as good an opponent as any for Northwestern to finally put together a solid 60-minute effort against. Also, Duke lost—at home—to Wake Forest last week. By 10 points.
Caleb Friedman - Northwestern 14, Duke 13
The Wildcats haven’t caught any breaks this season, partly because of how terribly they’ve played. This game won’t be pretty, so expect a lot of Justin Jackson and a lot of punting. The offensive line, the subject of much of the team’s criticism this season, will do just enough against a suspect Duke front seven.
Zach Wingrove - Duke 20, Northwestern 14
It’s hard to say which aspect of Northwestern is most concerning heading into this week, but I’d have to point toward the secondary. The Wildcats will be without Matthew Harris, Alonzo Mayo and now also Kyle Queiro on Saturday and I just don’t think Northwestern has the depth to overcome those key losses. I see the Wildcats being able to keep it close throughout the game but a late Duke touchdown will put the Blue Devils ahead and the Northwestern offense won’t have an answer in the fourth quarter.
Henry Bushnell - Northwestern 27, Duke 13
This is probably my last prediction/snippet of writing on this site for a while, so allow me to dispense a few takes:
Chill. R-E-L-A-X, as a great NFL quarterback who lost two early-season games once said. The overreactions to the Illinois State game have been farcical—and make no mistake, this is a reaction to ONE game, or at least it should be. The Western Michigan loss really wasn’t that bad.
The biggest worry right now is injuries. But if healthy, this team really isn’t that much worse than last year’s team. It’s basically last year’s team minus two or its three best players — albeit two players that made a lot of others, including the third of those three, much better. That’s significant, or course. But this is not — ahem — the worst team in the Big Ten. Come on.
Now remember, last year’s team was more like a seven-win team than a 10-win team, so that makes this year’s team roughly a five-win team given the schedule. That doesn’t mean it’ll win five games, but the Wildcats aren’t as terrible as you think they are, just as they weren’t as good as you thought they were last year.
Also, Duke is bad, just like it was last year. Northwestern will win on Saturday.
Josh Rosenblat - Northwestern 10, Duke 13
I’ve been right about literally nothing about this team all season... so here goes another (wrong) prediction. I’m hoping for a M00N-like D00N game. It really would be better if it was N00D, so pull through BTN.
Ian McCafferty - Northwestern 11, Duke 9
This will be a bad football game. Duke’s offensive line is bad, but so is Northwestern’s. Neither defensive line is particularly good, and both kickers are shaky. This is the ultimate example of a stoppable force meeting a movable object. Honestly, this game may be worse than last weeks ISU debacle. The game will be decided in a dumb way, with no offensive touchdowns being scored at any point. Northwestern ekes out a win because at this point it has to.