Week 5 College Football Parlay: Virginia Seeks First ACC Win At Duke’s Expense

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Billy Kemp IV #4 of the Virginia Cavaliers fumbles the ball in the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the first quarter at Memorial Stadium. Justin Casterline/Getty Images/AFP

The top sportsbooks have released their odds for this week’s college football action, and one game, in particular, interests me as worth investing in:

  • Virginia vs. Duke

For reasons that I will explain, you should play both the side and total for this game.

Feel free to parlay both bets at your favorite online sports betting site in order to maximize your profit.

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Virginia Cavaliers vs. Duke Blue Devils

Saturday, October 01, 2022 – 07:30 PM EDT at Wallace Wade Stadium

Virginia's Win Streak Against Duke

One key trend is that Virginia has won seven games in a row against Duke.

This trend might seem worth dismissing because different coaches now lead both squads –Virginia's Tony Elliott and Duke's Mike Elko did not contribute to this trend. Nevertheless, both coaches inherited this trend.

For the Duke side, a streak like this can easily get inside a player's head. Virginia knows this well enough as it continues to find ways to lose every year to increasingly beatable Virginia Tech squads.

So, while some skepticism regarding the current relevance of the trend is justified by each team's coaching changes, Virginia's win streak still counts as a factor that favors Virginia.

Duke's ACC Losing Streak

Moreover, the Blue Devils enter this game on a 13-game losing streak against ACC opponents. Again, this trend might seem worth dismissing under a new head coach.

While the Blue Devils' start to its season has been a positive one, a strong start in non-conference play is already pretty much part of their annual routine.

As I will explain, they lack the personnel to be competitive against Virginia (as well as other ACC teams).

Granted, one must first account for the Cavaliers' feeble start to the season.

New System and Adjustments

Brennan Armstrong's statistical regression is well-known, but it elicits relief to know that his regression is in no way physically induced. There is nothing wrong with his body, only with his mind.

He needs to gain comfort in a new offense that is determined to be vastly more balanced in its play-calling than it was last year, and this balance is fruitful with Perris Jones exceeding five YPC in both of his last two games.

Adjustment, though, is a two-way street. While Armstrong is working on cleaning up his mental errors –on avoiding staring down and locking into receivers, on making better decisions in general– offensive coordinator Desmond Kitchings is also working to make him more comfortable.

Kitchings is having Armstrong throw shorter passes to running backs in the flat, having him execute screens, rolling him out of the pocket, allowing him to make more use of his big tight end Grant Misch, and lining up the dangerous Keytaon Thompson in different spots pre-snap.

Underneath Game

Wide receiver Billy Kemp's absence was critical because it deprived Armstrong of a trusted and familiar target. But Coach Elliott confirmed that Kemp will be back this week. He was cleared to play last week but was held out of Virginia's road game for precautionary reasons.

Known for his shiftiness and his strong execution of underneath routes, Kemp will further aid Armstrong's short-passing game.

Thompson's dangerousness is largely a product of his speed, which helps him get open and make big things happen after the catch. He is Virginia's leading receiver.

When the Cavs enter the red zone, Lavel Davis Jr. becomes more important. A tall target at 6'7 with significant athleticism, he has caught both of Armstrong's touchdown passes.

Duke's Vulnerable Pass Defense

Whereas there is more and a lot to like about Virginia's pass attack, Duke's pass defense is trending downward. Currently, the Blue Devils rank 105th nationally in limiting opposing passing yards.

Duke suffers for, among other things, losing key members of its secondary to the transfer portal. Namely, both starting safeties departed. Last year, one led and the other was tied for second in passes defended.

There is a lot of unproven or hardly proven personnel in the Blue Devil secondary outside of a couple of ineffective transfers.

This group will be ripe for Virginia, with its improving quarterback and excellent wide receivers, to exploit.

Lack of Pass Pressure

In a similar vein, Armstrong has suffered for playing behind a completely new and revamped offensive line.

Duke, which has eight sacks on the season with four of those coming against its FCS opponent, is not the team to pressure Armstrong.

During their offseason, the Blue Devils lost two key starters from their defensive line, plus a meaningful piece, after they lost every starter the year before. Particularly crucial to this exodus was Ben Frye, a leader and a stalwart starter at defensive tackle.

Duke's Passing and Running Disadvantages

One key disadvantage for Duke offensively is that Virginia's pass rush is strongly improved. Led by Chico Bennett Jr. and his second-highest sack total in the ACC, UVA ranks third nationally in sack rate.

The Cavs just faced a dual-threat quarterback, and they have the personnel to keep Blue Devil quarterback Riley Leonard from using his extended skillset.

Moreover, while Virginia's limiting Syracuse's Sean Tucker really isn't impressive, Duke lacks the personnel to do to the Cavs what Illinois' Chase Brown did to them.

Duke lost its All-ACC first-teamer at running back, Mataeo Durant, and is relying on a far less talented, less proven, and generally vastly less productive committee of running backs.

Final Verdict

Armstrong's numbers are down also because he's faced Syracuse's secondary, which is laden with strong experience, and an Illinois defense that ranks first nationally at limiting opposing passer rating.

But now he gets a soft test, and Kemp returns. Supported by an upstart running game and after gaining more practice time, he'll improve upon what he did to Old Dominion and Richmond.

Defensively, Virginia brings the pass rush to contain another dual-threat quarterback while it can repeat last week's rush defense success given Duke's now less talented running back group.

Keep an Eye on the Line Movements

The total for this game has dropped tremendously due to expected rain and wind, but this rain won't hurt Armstrong, who should already be disinclined to throw deep.

Blue Devil defensive backs will surely slip trying to contain Kemp and Thompson underneath.

The total has dropped so much also in view of what Virginia's offense can do especially when it avoids the sort of red zone turnovers that plagued its output against Old Dominion.

Rain will also likely persuade Duke to use its running backs more, which mitigates the effects of Virginia's pass rush and takes advantage of key linebacker Nick Jackson's first-half absence as a result of his targeting penalty last week.

Our Parlay Bet

For the above reasons, I recommend playing Virginia and the "over" with your NCAAF picks, and be sure to use our trusty parlay calculator for all of your parlay betting needs.

  • Cavaliers +2.5 (-103)
  • Over 48.5 (-115)

NCAAF Pick: Two-Legged Parlay (+268) at BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Two-Legged Parlay (+268)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.