Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#341 Kansas vs.
#342 Duke
Saturday, September 25, 2021 at 4:00pm EDT
Written by Eric P.

The Duke Blue Devils play host to the Kansas Jayhawks in a non-conference matchup on Saturday from Wallace Wade Stadium. Typically when the Big 12 and ACC get together for a non-conference game, it makes waves nationally, but that certainly isn't the case with this one. Kansas has continued to struggle as one of the worst teams not only in the Power 5, but in FBS as a whole. For Duke, they aren't in quite as dire of trouble, but still struggle with inconsistencies and know that they cannot drop a game to the Jayhawks, especially being at home. A season-opening loss to Charlotte was a shocker for Duke, but they've done well to bounce back and were impressive in a win over Northwestern last week. For the Jayhawks, their lone win was a nail-biter against an FCS foe and then they were quickly humbled by both Coastal Carolina and Baylor. These two teams have only met twice all-time, with the series split at a win each. The last time they met was in 2014, a 41-3 Duke win, which is probably similar to how Saturday's game might b expected to go. Blue Devil fans will be excited for what should be an easy win, while Kansas fans will likely just continue to look towards basketball season.

Jayhawks Eye First FBS Win

Kansas was without a win last season without the help of an FCS game and their last win over an FBS team was November 26th in 2019, a nearly two-year drought. Going on the road doesn't help, as they haven't won a road game since September 13th of 2019, and the fact that it is against an ACC team that is quickly finding themselves isn't ideal either. The Jayhawks were outperformed in the opener against South Dakota in nearly every facet besides the final score. Against Coastal Carolina and Baylor, the difference in the caliber of play was on full display and that is sure to be the case again on Saturday against Duke. Kansas ranks 123rd in points per game nationally and 116th in points allowed per game, showing that they don't even have a strength to rely on for one side or the other. Kevin Terry (undisclosed) is questionable for Saturday and unless the wide receiver turns a corner quickly, Kansas will be without another athlete on offense.

Kansas is only scoring 15.33 points per game and when you take away their FCS win, they only scored 29 points in two FBS games, with a chunk of that coming in garbage time against Coastal Carolina in week two. Jason Bean has been targeted as the future of the team and has taken the majority of the snaps at quarterbacks. In three games, he's only tossed for 409 yards and three touchdowns but is also the team's leading rusher, at 26 yards total and two touchdowns. The dual-threat ability at least adds some interest to the offense but without a solid running back to go along with Bean, his effort isn't as valuable. The Jayhawks are only averaging 121 yards per game on the ground and 152.7 yards through the air, which are numbers that just aren't nearly high enough to result in not only wins but in even keeping close with fellow Power 5 opponents.

Defensively, this team might even be worse off than their offense. They've allowed at least 45 points in back-to-back games against FBS opponents and that seems likely to be the case in a third straight game on Saturday. Offenses are averaging over 400 yards a game against the Jayhawks this season and they've struggled in both aspects, on the ground, and through the air, to slow anyone down. Kenny Logan Jr. will be making his name know often, leading the team with 25 total tackles, but like Bean and the offense, he doesn't have much help. The Jayhawks are yet to cause a turnover this year and only have two sacks total, both numbers that not only aren't impressive but don't seem to be changing or improving any time soon.

Duke Easing Into Form

Duke was shocked in the opening game against Charlotte in a game that sent shock waves through the ACC but they've very nicely bounced back in the last two games. Especially this last week, being able to beat Northwestern was a nice win given Northwestern's recent success in the Big Ten. The Blue Devils have been struggling with inconsistency for years and this season has already been an example of that being the case. Against Charlotte, Duke racked up nearly 600 yards of total offense but their defense didn't do much to slow down the 49ers. Duke ranks right in the middle of the road in nearly every offensive and defensive category but a game against Kansas should see those skyrocket. Injury-wise, tight end Matt Smith (knee) remains the only expected key contributor out, as he'll be out for the season. With the ACC slate coming down the pike, grabbing a win and making it look easy is at the top of the to-do list for the Blue Devils this weekend.

Duke ranks 47th in FBS in points per game but their yardage numbers have been exceptional. They rank 13th in total yards per game, with the ground game being their main source of offense. They rank 15th in rushing yards per game and 17th in rushing attempts per game, but ranking 35th in passing attempts per game shows a strong balance on the offensive side. Gunnar Holmberg is the leader of the offense, averaging 270 passing yards a game but only has two touchdowns to show for it. Expect a heavy dose of Mataeo Durant on the ground as Duke tries to control the clock. Durant leads the team with 132 rushing yards per game and already has seven touchdowns on the ground. The Jayhawks will have their hands full in general, but especially trying to slow down Duke and get the ball back. Expect long drives that result in scores for Duke to quickly take control of the game.

Defensively, Duke is only allowing teams to rush for fewer than 170 yards per game and a little north of 200 passing yards per game. Both of those numbers will be tough for the Jayhawks to reach and considering Duke should also control the clock, should have a fresh defense most possessions. Shaka Heyward is the leader of the defense, with a team-high 33 tackles on the season, while Lummie Young IV should have his way in the secondary. Young IV has been every for the Duke defense this season, grabbing an interception, breaking up four passes, adding a sack, and having 25 total tackles. Kansas will have their hands full trying to get anything going against Duke's balanced offense and expect the Jayhawks to struggle to match Duke's energy on that side of the ball.

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Full-Game Side Bet

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Kansas is one of the worst football teams in America and is lucky that they aren't 0-3 with an FCS loss on their resume as well. In their games against FBS competition this season they have been humbled and add in going on the road as well for Saturday's game, and it doesn't look good for the Jayhawks. The constant turnover of players has plagued the program and Duke will be ready to take advantage. While Duke has had their own fair share of struggles this season, they still have fared well against the bottom feeders on their schedule, a category that Kansas surely fits into. Add in an upcoming ACC schedule without many guaranteed victories and Duke will be locked in to make quick and easy work of Kansas. Duke can do it on both sides of the ball, between their experience at quarterback and running back, they will be able to control the clock and wear away at Kansas' defense, who will likely be stuck on the build for massive stretches on Saturday. Kansas has no help on offense and even less experience and talent on defense, and that'll show on Saturday. Duke should be able to jump out to a big lead early and Kansas' inability to move the ball consistently will be an issue that they won't be able to overcome. Add in the Duke faithful cheering along, and the Blue Devils will coast to one of their easiest wins of the season on Saturday afternoon.

Prediction: Duke (-16)

Full-Game Total Pick

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Duke's offense has been on point this season and their balance has made them one of the better teams early in the ACC, especially considering their nonconference win over Northwestern. Their ability to throw and run the ball creates a balance that Kansas won't have any chance to slow down. For Kansas, moving the ball likely won't be an option early on, but as the game gets out of hand and Duke looks to get younger players into the age, a few garbage time points are bound to happen. Additionally, according to covers.com, for Duke, the over is 5-0 in the last five games after scoring more than 40 points in their previous game, is 4-0 in their last four games following a straight-up win of more than 20 points, is 5-0 in their last five games against a team with a losing record, and is 4-0-1 in their last five home games against a team with a losing road record. For Kansas, the over is 5-0 in their last five games following a double-digit loss at home, is 5-0-1 in their last six games on grass, and is 10-1 in their last eleven games after allowing more than 40 points in their previous game.

Prediction: Over 57.5
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Written By Eric Ploch , "Eric P."

Eric grew up surrounded by sports, whether it was spending the weekend catching games in person or on tv, or heading out to the fields to play whatever sport was in season. What started as a hobby, soon became a passion, as he became the sports editor of his high school newspaper, then wrote for his university newspaper during his undergrad years. After obtaining a degree in Sports Operations and Promotions, and spending 8 years deeply immersed in the sports world, Eric decided to take his love for analytics and predictions, and his experience, to online sports fans everywhere. James is now an integral part of our team here at StatSalt and has also been a very successful sports bettor over the years. Be sure and follow him daily.