NCAAF: Duke, Virginia stars take center stage for ACC matchup

It’s clear that Duke and Virginia rely on a couple of players for much of their offense.

So, who holds up better between Blue Devils running back Mataeo Durant and Cavaliers quarterback Brennan Armstrong could factor into the outcome when the Atlantic Coast Conference teams meet Saturday afternoon in Charlottesville, Va.

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Virginia (4-2, 2-2 ACC) enters the game after two thrilling road wins — 30-28 over Miami and 34-33 over Louisville.

Last Saturday against the Cardinals, the Cavaliers rallied from 17 points down in the fourth quarter.

Armstrong, who completed 40 of 60 passes for 487 yards and three touchdowns, was a focal point of that success. The yardage total was the second highest in school history, surpassed only by his 554 yards in a September loss at North Carolina.

“You think you’re going to win just because he thinks he’s going to win no matter what the circumstances,” Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “He’s just a fierce competitor.”

Duke (3-3, 0-2) is trying to shake off a two-game skid following a 31-27 home loss to Georgia Tech last Saturday. The Blue Devils are aware of what Armstrong has been up to the past several weeks.

“We know we’re playing a conference of quarterbacks, so we’re going to (face) a talented offense every week,” Duke defensive tackle DeWayne Carter said. “It’s a new challenge every single week.”

Armstrong has thrown 284 passes this season, with 17 touchdowns. He also has been picked off six times.

Duke’s defense has intercepted two passes in three different games this season.

The Cavaliers like how Armstrong has worked through any struggles.

“It’s really hard to get him down, just because of his go-go-go attitude,” Virginia tight end Grant Misch said.

Durant’s 152 rushing yards in the Georgia Tech game came on a school-record 43 carries. The output also pushed Durant, a senior, to more than 2,000 rushing yards for his career.

The Blue Devils rallied from 14 down before falling to the Yellow Jackets.

“That shows how potent our offense can be at any time,” Durant said.

This will be Duke’s first out-of-state trip of the season. The Blue Devils have lost their lone road games, to Charlotte and to North Carolina.

“Our football team is doing a lot of good things,” coach David Cutcliffe said. “It is my job to make sure that we don’t minimize all those good things. We need to maximize all of those opportunities.”

Virginia has won six straight meetings against Duke. Because of last year’s pandemic-related schedule adjustments, this marks the third year in a row the teams will face off in Charlottesville.

–Field Level Media

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