Duke hosts Virginia, hopes for momentum boost from ND upset
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) The Blue Devils and Cavaliers both pulled off impressive victories last week. So which team has more momentum now?
Duke and Virginia meet Saturday in a deceptively important game that could put the loser into a substantial hole in the Coastal Division standings.
Virginia (1-3, 0-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) has struggled in Bronco Mendenhall's first season, but is coming off a 49-35 win over Central Michigan as a slight home underdog to a Mid-American Conference school.
''We certainly have not arrived,'' Mendenhall said.
Duke (2-2, 0-1) pulled off what counts as a stunner : The Blue Devils were 20-point underdogs at Notre Dame but rallied for a last-minute 38-35 victory.
And now that they're back to being the favorites - Duke is favored by 3+ points - they can't afford complacency.
''I think there is some truth when people say at times, success is harder to handle than adversity,'' coach David Cutcliffe said.
Some things to know about the Virginia-Duke game:
EDWARDS HURT: Duke's victory came at a pretty big cost: Kick returner and safety DeVon Edwards' college career ended when he tore ligaments in his left knee on a kickoff. Edwards, a redshirt senior who returned six kickoffs for touchdowns during his career, will be replaced in that role by RBs Shaun Wilson - who brought a kickoff back 96 yards for a key touchdown against Notre Dame - and Joseph Ajeigbe. Alonzo Saxton II figures to fill his spot in the secondary.
DUNCAN'T: Duke will be without leading rusher Jela Duncan, who's out with a leg injury. Wilson will replace him in the starting lineup with Ajeigbe backing him up. Duncan ranks eighth in the ACC in rushing at 78.5 yards per game.
INJURED CAVALIERS: Virginia's secondary took a hit, too, with cornerback Tim Harris having season-ending shoulder surgery and Juan Thornhill suffering an undisclosed injury during the Central Michigan game. Thornhill, though, is listed as probable at one cornerback spot this week but the other is a question mark after sophomore Myles Robinson is ruled out with a lower extremity injury.
Virginia QB Kurt Benkert will finally take a snap in the state of North Carolina. Benkert was supposed to be East Carolina's starter last season but suffered a season-ending knee injury in August and transferred to Virginia after coach Ruffin McNeill was fired. Benkert set the school record with 421 yards passing in the win over Central Michigan. McNeill, meanwhile, also is at UVa as an assistant head coach and defensive line coach.
The Cavaliers have been the one team that Duke has dominated since Cutcliffe's arrival in 2008. The Blue Devils have won six of eight in that span, but Virginia won 42-34 last year.
Duke has 17 sacks in four games, with DT A.J. Wolf recording a team-best four. The Blue Devils had 17 sacks in all of 2015. That defensive front will face a test from a Virginia team that did not allow a sacks in the Central Michigan win.
AP College Football: www.collegefootball.ap.org