October 17, 2014

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) It's a sign of how far Duke's program has come that reaching bowl eligibility has become almost an afterthought.

Beating Virginia again would mean so much more to the Blue Devils than just a sixth victory.

The early inside track to the Atlantic Coast Conference Coastal Division title is at stake Saturday when the Blue Devils and Cavaliers renew a rivalry that has been one-sided lately.

''The mentality ... we've tried to develop is just how precious each one of these games is, and I think the biggest thing is, they recognize what an ACC game means,'' Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. ''They understand that that's enough to turn it up a notch. ... There's a lot of things on the line.''

Virginia (4-2, 2-0) is the only Coastal team undefeated in ACC play. A win by the Blue Devils (5-1, 1-1) would create a four-team tie for first and give them head-to-head tiebreakers over two of them.

Duke is also trying to reach the six-win mark for the third straight year. Last year marked the first time the Blue Devils have gone to bowls in consecutive seasons.

The Cavaliers have been one of the ACC's pleasant surprises so far, winning two straight and four of five since an opening loss to then-No. 7 UCLA. But they haven't had much success recently against Duke, losing five of the six meetings since Cutcliffe took over the Blue Devils in 2008.

''You are what your record is,'' Virginia coach Mike London said. ''We need to move forward and have a better second half in order for us to continue to improve. ... I'm pleased (with the season), but at the same time there's work yet to be done and there's improvement that needs to be done in order for this team to move forward.''

---

Some things to know about Virginia's trip to Duke on Saturday:

QB QUESTIONS: London says it could be gameday before he decides who will start at quarterback. Greyson Lambert has been dealing with a right ankle injury and London said he needs ''his absolute 100 percent honesty'' about how it feels before he picks either Lambert or fellow sophomore Matt Johns as his starter. Johns has seven touchdown passes in six games, making two starts, while Lambert completed 65 percent of his passes in his four appearances. ''We feel pretty good about Matt or Greyson being behind the center,'' London said.

- GIVE AND TAKE: No ACC team has forced more turnovers than Virginia (19). No ACC team has committed fewer of them than Duke (five). So ball security will be of utmost importance when the Blue Devils' offense is on the field. ''There's a strength versus a strength,'' Cutcliffe said.

- PASS PROTECTION: Keep an eye on a Duke offensive line that has allowed the fewest sacks in the ACC. The Blue Devils' quarterbacks have been sacked just four times while the Cavaliers rank third in the league with 22 sacks.

- IN THE PAST: The Cavaliers certainly haven't forgotten their last meeting with Duke. Virginia blew a 22-0 lead and lost 35-22, giving up 28 points in the second half and keeping alive the Blue Devils' improbable run to the Coastal Division title. ''If you panic, how do make a comeback?'' Duke defensive lineman Carlos Wray asked. ''How do you take the right steps? How do you fix the things that you missed in the first half? Those are questions if you panic.''

- PARKS' RECREATION: Virginia RB Kevin Parks could be in line for a big day because the Blue Devils' run defense ranks last in the ACC, allowing an average of 202 yards on the ground. Parks rushes for 71 yards per game but will try to become the third 100-yard rusher allowed by Duke in its last three games.

---

Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joedyap

You May Like