Game Time: 7:00 pm ET, Friday, September 3, 2021
Venue: Jerry Richardson Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Where to Watch: CBS Sports
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Spread: Blue Devils -6.5, 49ers +6.5; Over/Under: 60.5 points
Bet365: Spread: Blue Devils -6.5, 49ers +6.5; Over/Under: 60.5 points
BetMGM: Spread: Blue Devils -6.5, 49ers +6.5; Over/Under: 60.5 points
Duke Blue Devils: 0-0 (ACC Coastal)
Charlotte 49ers: 0-0 (C-USA East)
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Duke Blue Devils vs Charlotte 49ers Preview and Analysis
Duke Blue Devils: 4 game losing streak
Charlotte 49ers: 2 game losing streak
Blue Devils vs 49ers Prediction
The Duke Blue Devils football team will be taking on the unc Charlotte 49ers football team on Friday night for the season opener of the college football season schedule. Duke will be looking to build off of their two-win season last year. They finished in 2nd last of their NCAA division, the Atlantic Coast Conference, with an overall record of 2-9, they were 1-9 in conference play. They will be playing this game on the road where they went 1-5 in their previous season. The Charlotte 49ers finished in 4th place of the Conference USA East with an overall record of 2-4, going 2-2 in conference play. They were 1-1 when playing in home games in North Carolina last season. Both of these teams come into this game carrying over losing streaks from their last seasons but 1 of those will have to come to an end here. After a year riddled with covid restrictions, there will finally be some college football fans in the stands adding a whole new element to the game that was not really apparent last year.
The Duke football team returns in this game on a 4 game losing streak from last year. They were handed losses in their last 4 contests of the season by the Florida State Seminoles, Miami Hurricanes, Georgia Tech, and the North Carolina Tar Heels. Their last win last season actually came against this Charlotte side 53-19 in Durham last October at Wallace Wade Stadium. The Duke Blue Devils offense was mediocre in their last season. In the passing game they were averaging a 56.3% completion percentage, 222.6 passing yards, and 1 touchdown per game. The Duke offense also averaged 157.1 rushing yards and 1.7 touchdowns per game on the ground. The Duke defense was giving up tons of yardage. They were allowing teams to average a 57.1% completion percentage, 231.6 passing yards, and 2 touchdowns against per game through the air. They were also allowing 215.8 rushing yards and 2.8 touchdowns against per game on the ground. Head coach David Cutcliffe is returning for yet another season at the coaching position here but he has not been doing well in previous seasons, trending in the wrong direction over the past 3 years. In 2018 he led the team to an 8-5 winning season but has not been able to do that since. In 2019 the team finished with a 5-7 record and then took it a step further in the previous year with a 2-9 record. He will have to make some changes to both this offense and defense to see some results this year and try to turn things around and have a bounce back season.
The 49ers come into this game riding a 2 game losing streak from last season. They ended their season with losses to Western Kentucky and Duke, with their last win coming against UTEP. The Charlotte 49ers offense was also mediocre last season. They were averaging a 54.7% completion percentage, 222.8 passing yards, and 1.7 touchdowns per game through the air last season. They were also averaging 154.8 rushing yards and 1.8 touchdowns per game in the running game. They really struggled to find the endzone last year and did not average too many PPG. The 49ers defense was alright but did much better defending the pass than the run. They were allowing teams a 57.6% completion percentage, 205.5 passing yards, and 1.7 touchdowns against per game through the air. The Charlotte defense was also allowing 214 rushing yards and 2.3 TDs against per game on the ground. Head coach Will Healy is returning for his 3rd season with the team. In his first season he led them to a 7-6 winning season but only managed to go 2-4 last year. He is a first time college football coach and the 3rd year will be his big test to see if he can make any major leaps with this program this season.
Both of these teams had awful seasons last year and will be looking for their first win in a while. It is almost a guarantee that neither of these teams will even have a chance at the FBS college football playoff this year. Duke still managed to destroy them last season. That game was at home, they will now be on the road for this one. Duke is the favorite NCAAF team in this one and is still a long way away from playing on a stage as big as the Rose Bowl in the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Both only had 2 wins last season but Duke plays against much tougher teams in their conference than Charlotte does in the Coastal division. Duke should be able to dominate this game again and cover the spread.
Blue Devils 49ers Prediction: Our NCAAF Pick for Friday, September 3, 2021 (7:00 pm ET start time) is Blue Devils 35 49ers 20.
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NCAAF Betting Trends
Duke Blue Devils: 2-0 ATS against C-USA opponents over the last 3 years.
Charlotte 49ers: 3-1 ATS as a home underdog in the last 3 years.
Duke Blue Devils: None
Charlotte 49ers: None
Players to Watch
Duke Blue Devils: Quarterback Gunnar Holmberg is just one of the starters to watch on this squad. He did not get to play much last season, only completing 18/25 passes for 72 yards, 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. He will be in charge of the offense now and will be looking to make the most of his chance. He has a lot of talent in his WRs such as Jake Bobo and should be able to make some big plays here.
Charlotte 49ers: QB Chris Reynolds is one player to watch as he is returning for his 4th season with the team. He had a good year last season only playing in 6 games but completing 96/175 passes for 1305 yards, 8 TDs and 2 INTs. He has been playing with them for 3 seasons now and should know this offense very well. Watch for him to make some big plays in this one.
“Whenever you’re going through it and making your way up the ranks, it’s something I always knew I wanted, something that I always worked for, something that gave me hope in every practice. Since I was in the seventh grade, I’ve wanted to be the Duke quarterback.” - Gunnar Holmberg on being named the Duke starting QB.
“It’s exciting to be talking about a season, and it’ll be even more exciting to play a game on the date as scheduled. Last year is not the college experience that I want for these guys. Going 2-4 and having nine games canceled is not the student-athlete experience I want for them, and I take that personally. I’ve lost sleep over that. So to say I’m ready for 2021 is an understatement.” - Will Healy on wanting his team to have a good football experience now that a full season is back.
Duke Blue Devils
WR Bobo, Jake
WR Pancol, Eli
WR Calhoun, Jalon
TE Marwede, Jake
QB Holmberg, Gunnar
RB Durant, Mataeo
RB Waters, Jordan
WR Tucker, Victor
WR Dollar, Cameron
WR Elder, Micaleous
TE Carriere, Ryan
TE Thompson, Taylor
QB Reynolds, Chris
RB Byrd, Shadrick
RB Camp, Calvin
Duke Blue Devils: David Cutcliffe (14th season)
Charlotte 49ers: Will Healy (3rd season)
77 degrees F sunny, 52% humidity, 0% chance of rain, up to 8 mph wind speeds NE.