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    Wake Forest vs. Duke Thursday ACC football odds: Spread, total plunge with Blue Devils quarterback Riley Leonard a game-time decision

    Duke QB Riley Leonard will be a game-time call vs. Wake Forest.
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    The promise of one of the greatest seasons in Duke football history went off the rails Sept. 30 in a hard-fought loss to Notre Dame. While excellent Blue Devils quarterback Riley Leonard was able to finish that game, he was injured in it and hasn't been the same since -- and neither has Duke. The Blue Devils will try for a third straight week to become bowl-eligible Thursday night as they host Wake Forest. Duke was as high as -12.5 on the SportsLine consensus and the total as high as 45.5, but those are down to 6.5 and 41.5, respectively, with Leonard a game-time call against the Demon Deacons. Click here for model picks.

    I personally don't play college football DFS, but Leonard isn't listed anywhere for Thursday's slate. Given the way some writers around the program are talking, it's more likely than not that he sits out due to his ankle issue. The junior has played in two of the three games since the Notre Dame loss and the Blue Devils lost both by a combined score of 61-20.

    Leonard clearly was not right Saturday in a 23-0 defeat at Louisville. He was just 9-for-23 for 121 yards with a pick and four sacks taken. He rushed for only 13 yards on 10 carries. This same player had 98 yards and a touchdown on eight carries in the Week 1 upset of Clemson and had two other games of at least 88 yards rushing – all before the injury. Duke rushed for a season-low 51 yards vs. Louisville. It was the Blue Devils' first game of the season without a rushing TD.

    If Leonard can't go, redshirt freshman Henry Belin IV, who is just 13-for-26 for 222 yards with three TDs and a pick on the year, would presumably get the call. Belin does have an upper-body injury that's lingered for more than a month and still has him no more than 70% healthy, according to Duke coach Mike Elko.

    "[Belin] was a warrior for us and really gritted his teeth and played against State and played against Florida State," said Elko. "But if you look at where he was at health wise in those two games, he was probably more injured than Riley was, to be honest with you. He just couldn't move and run and do those types of things." 

    Freshman Grayson Loftis was recently moved up from the scout team to get first-team repetitions in practices and played the fourth quarter against Louisville. You can see why the spread and total shifted so much. 

    The Blue Devils (5-3, 2-2) still have a shot to reach the ACC title game but almost surely would have to win out, and I personally don't see it winning next week at North Carolina, but there are no ranked teams left on the schedule.

    Duke is 7-0 against the spread in its past seven outings vs. unranked FBS teams like Wake Forest (4-4, 1-4 ACC), which has dropped four of five after starting 3-0. The Deacons threw for just 82 yards in last week's 41-16 home loss to Florida State, their lowest passing total since 2010. 

    Wake Forest has also cycled through a few QBs and currently is starting sophomore Mitch Griffis, who is completing just 57.3% of this throws with six picks. Wake Forest must win two of its final four to make a bowl game for the eight straight season. After this, it hosts NC State, visits Notre Dame (a likely loss) and closes at Syracuse (also a likely loss).

    Well coached by Dave Clawson, Wake Forest has not had a losing record at any point in a season (excluding the COVID year) since 2018, but that would change with a loss tonight. The Under has hit in five straight Deacons road games, tied for the longest active streak nationally. Duke is allowing an ACC-best 15.0 PPG this season.

    Elko and Clawson spent 12 seasons together spread between Fordham (2002-03), Richmond (2004-05), Bowling Green (2009-13), and Wake Forest (2014-16).

    Duke leads the all-time series between the two schools 59-41-2, and won last year 34-31 in the regular-season finale on a 20-yard pass from Leonard to Sahmir Hagans with about two minutes left. Leonard had 391 yards passing and four scores. It's the last Duke home game before the basketball team steals all the on-campus attention, with the season tipping off Monday vs. Dartmouth. 

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