College football odds: 2013 Duke Blue Devils preview

Yes, Duke is a basketball school. But don’t laugh: The Blue Devils actually could be a contender for the ACC Coastal Division title this year and make a second straight bowl game under rising coach David Cutcliffe.

For the first since 1994, the Blue Devils bowled last season. The fact that they lost to Cincinnati, 48-34, in the Belk Bowl really didn’t matter. It represented a tangible sign of progress for ACC Coach of the Year Cutcliffe. on defense. The Blue Devils are moving forward without longtime starting QB Sean Renfree and all-time leading receiver Conner Vernon.

Anthony Boone is much more mobile than his predecessor, Renfree. Boone was impressive when pressed into duty last year, throwing for 531 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions and rushing for 82 yards and two TDs.

Defensively, the secondary underwent a complete makeover this offseason, as Ross Cockrell was the only returning starter in the group. And even he missed the second half of spring with an injury. Jeremy Cash, Dwayne Norman and Corbin McCarthy are the new faces that could earn spots in the starting lineup, but don’t be surprised if true freshmen Evrett Edwards and Quay Mann play as well. McCarthy, Cash and Norman were penciled in as the starters in the preseason depth chart.

Duke is certainly capable of running the table with its non-conference schedule, and there are several winnable ACC games out there — Pittsburgh at home on Sept. 21 comes to mind — but Duke doesn’t have much margin for error if it wants to reach a bowl game for the second straight season. eason will be a success if … the Blue Devils again win six games. There can be no retreat for the Duke football program; not after all that Cutcliffe has achieved to get to this point. Anything beyond the six regular-season wins needed for bowl-eligibility is going to be highly unlikely. However, with a schedule that includes non-conference games against N.C. Central, Memphis, Troy and Navy, the Devils will have a shot to once again start fast, deliver a mild upset or two and qualify for the postseason.

Key losses: QB Sean Renfree, WR Conner Vernon, S Jordan Byas, S Walt Canty

Key returnees: WR Jamison Crowder, RB Juwan Thompson, DE Kenny Anunike, CB Ross Cockrell

WagerWeb odds to win Coastal: +3000

Duke 2013 schedule

Aug. 31 NC Central

Sept. 7 at Memphis

Sept. 14 Georgia Tech

Sept. 21 Pitt

Sept. 28 Troy

Oct. 12 Navy

Oct. 19 at Virginia

Oct. 26 at Virginia Tech

Nov. 9 NC State

Nov. 16 Miami

Nov. 23 at Wake Forest

Nov. 30 at North Carolina

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