Under the direction of coach David Cutcliffe, Duke football finally has arrived.
The Blue Devils have won 12 consecutive regular-season games, the nation’s second-longest win streak behind Florida State. Sure, it’s a modified number that conveniently skips over a Chick-fil-A Bowl loss to Texas A&M, but you get the point.
Cutcliffe has led the way to back-to-back bowl games for the first time in school history. If not for the heroics of Johnny Manziel on New Year’s Eve in Atlanta, the Blue Devils would be bringing a 13-game win streak to Miami today.
Duke (4-0) is beating its opponents by 32 points per game. Cutcliffe’s offense is clicking on all cylinders, scoring at a 43.5 points-per-game average.
Senior quarterback Anthony Boone has been terrific, completing 61.9 percent of his passes for 876 yards with seven touchdowns to one interception. He also has rushed for 89 yards and three scores.
Boone has one of the country’s premier weapons in wide receiver Jamison Crowder, who had 108 receptions and 1,832 all-purpose yards in 2013. Crowder has 22 catches for 296 yards and two touchdowns through four games.
The Blue Devils brought back their leading rusher from last year in Josh Snead, but he has been relegated to a backup role because of the emergence of a true freshman. Shaun Wilson has exploded by producing 404 rushing yards and four touchdowns on just 28 carries.
Duke thrived as a road underdog last season at 3-0 straight up and against the spread. In fact, the Blue Devils have won six straight road games and have not tasted defeat away from home since losing at Georgia Tech in November 2012.
The Hurricanes faced two teams of note this season, losing by double digits on both occasions at Louisville and Nebraska. Miami coach Al Golden is starting to feel the heat in Coral Gables.
Speaking of the temperature, it helps our cause that the game kicks off at night and won’t be played in the brutal south Florida sunshine. I’m on Duke as a 7-point underdog and also will call for the outright upset, so get something on the money-line payout at plus-250.
Four more plays for today (home team in CAPS):
■ Minnesota (+13) over MICHIGAN — According to my numbers, the Wolverines should be 8-point favorites. Michigan fell hard 31-0 at Notre Dame before getting whipped 26-10 by Utah last week. Brady Hoke is coaching on a boiling seat, there is a quarterback controversy and the fans are livid. The Wolverines are a team to fade, especially in double-digit favorite roles.
Even if Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner can’t play, and he’s questionable, backup Chris Streveler rushed for 161 yards and one touchdown in his first career start. The Gophers are 5-1 ATS in their past six games as underdogs.
■ Baylor (-21) over IOWA STATE — I have been hesitant to lay the big numbers with Baylor, but those were my mistakes. I made the Bears 25½-point favorites for this trip to Ames. They had 15 days to prepare for this spot, and the time off allowed quarterback Bryce Petty’s injured back to improve. Two of his top wide receivers return to the lineup.
■ Texas A&M (-9½) over Arkansas — Aggies quarterback Kenny Hill would finish second for the Heisman Trophy if the votes were counted today. The Dallas Southlake High product has been nothing short of sensational, with 13 touchdown passes and one interception. Look for Texas A&M to win a 48-35 type of game in Arlington, Texas.
■ Arkansas-Texas A&M (Over 72) — I made this total 83. The Aggies boast the nation’s second-ranked scoring offense (55.2 points per game), while the Razorbacks are third with a 48.8 scoring average. The two quarterbacks have a combined 21-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and both teams bring in mediocre defenses.
Last week: 2-2 against the spread
Brian Edwards of VegasInsider.com and BrianEdwardsSports.com is providing college football analysis for the Las Vegas Review-Journal.