Indiana vs. Duke
Saturday, December 26, 12:30 pm PT - ABC
CRIS Opener: Indiana -1.5 O/U 66
CRIS Current: Indiana -1.5 O/U 68
This one begins and ends with the injury of Duke's do-everything safety Jeremy Cash. Tabbed as a first-team All-American as well as ACC Defensive Player of the Year, Cash will miss the Pinstripe Bowl as he recovers from wrist surgery. Individual defenders are rarely if ever accounted for in the betting markets but Cash was arguably the most important defensive player in the country. And it's certainly important in this matchup given Indiana's ability to move the football.
The other thing to consider is even with Cash, Duke's defense was routinely exposed later in the season after facing a litany of offensively inept teams to start the year. Tulane, Northwestern, Georgia Tech, Boston College, and Army all struggled mightily to put points on the board this season. When Duke was asked to step up in class (somewhat), it allowed 38.8 ppg the final six games of the season. In those games, Duke was outgained by nearly a yard per play. And the game against North Carolina, who Indiana compares to offensively, needs to be pointed out. The Tar Heels racked up 704 yards and 8.8 ypp against the Blue Devils' stop unit.
But while Indiana should have success moving the football, I'm not sold that Duke won't be able to do the same. For all of the fanfare IU garnered for scoring on practically everyone, the defensive was miserable. We're talking about a team that allowed over 6,000 yards in 12 games. Yes, they deserve credit for hanging with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan State (for three quarters), Michigan, and Iowa but "hanging" doesn't get the job done as Indiana is currently priced as the favorite.
I remember thinking during the season that if Cash ever went down, playing against Duke and the over would be an automatic. It may be here but laying points with a team that was outgained on a yards per play basis is not a high percentage play and the total is certainly accounting for everything we discussed. Very tough one to call. Without Cash, I still have to lean Hoosiers and over but the market not providing much in the way of value.