Duke on Saturday returns to action after a week off to visit Georgia Tech in a matchup of two teams that have a shot at winning a suddenly crowded ACC Coastal Division.
Few teams needed the extended break more than the Blue Devils, who jumped out to a 6-2 start but were destroyed by ranked conference foes Florida State and Clemson by a combined 104-27 in their last two games.
Georgia Tech, meanwhile, has clawed back into title contention following a 2-4 start by winning three of its last four and is coming off back-to-back road wins at Maryland and North Carolina. That includes a record-setting offensive performance in a 68-50 victory over North Carolina a week ago. The Yellow Jackets have beaten Duke eight straight times.
Blue Devils are up and down
It's no surprise what is ailing the Blue Devils (6-4, 3-3 ACC). The 120 points surrendered in the last two losses speak volumes, but Duke has yielded numerous big plays in falling into a 31-0 hole against Florida State and allowing 28 first-quarter points to Clemson.
Facing Georgia Tech's triple-option attack will put added pressure on a defense that has been singed for 339 and 261 rushing yards, respectively, in the last two.
Senior quarterback Sean Renfree was knocked out of the Florida State game with a concussion but returned to throw for 240 yards and a touchdown against Clemson. Wideout Conner Vernon can set two ACC records Saturday. He needs one catch to run his consecutive-games streak to 46 and 35 yards to break the career mark for receiving yards held by Peter Warrick (3,517).
Win puts Tech in prime spot
The Yellow Jackets' win at North Carolina resembled a basketball score and marked the highest-scoring game in ACC history. More importantly, it put Georgia Tech (5-5, 4-3) in position to win the Coastal Division -- and a berth in the ACC title game -- if it beats Duke and the Blue Devils knock off Miami next week. That was an unthinkable scenario after the team lost by 21 points at home to Middle Tennessee in late September.
The Yellow Jackets could have a new quarterback after redshirt freshman Vad Lee rushed for two scores and threw for another in relief of starter Tevin Washington last week. Washington has made 27 straight starts and tied an ACC and school record with his 35th touchdown last week before Lee entered the contest.
Georgia Tech has won 16 of the last 17 meetings and the victory margin in the past eight matchups has been 24.6 points, with only last season's 38-31 victory decided by fewer than double digits.
Duke can win the Coastal Division by beating Georgia Tech and Miami in its next two games.
The Yellow Jackets, who fired defensive coordinator Al Groh in early October, allowed more than 40 points for the fifth time in 10 games last week.