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Early football preview and predictions: Duke Blue Devils

| Monday, April 20, 2020

The Irish are set to host their warmer weather ACC competitors, the Duke Blue Devils, on Halloween 2020. Coming off of a bye week after facing Pitt at Heinz Field, this game will be a real pace setter for the Irish. The team’s performance against Duke will be a fairly composite measurement of how Notre Dame will compete against the visiting Clemson Tigers the following week.


Opponent: Duke Blue Devils

Date: Oct. 31, 2020

Location: Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN

Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. EDT


History of the matchup

The Irish first met the Blue Devils in 1958, when Terry Brennan was at the helm. The Irish narrowly escaped with a win in 1958 at Notre Dame Stadium with the game ending with a final score of 9-7. Since then, Notre Dame has met the Blue Devils on the gridiron five additional times. The biggest gap between meetings was between the 1966 and 2007 seasons. Notre Dame has competed against Duke twice since the formation of their ACC agreement in 2013. The overall series record is 4-2 in favor of the Irish. 

The most recent Duke victory came back in 2016 during Notre Dame’s infamous 4-8 season. The Blue Devils were led by freshman quarterback Daniel Jones in their successful siege of Notre Dame Stadium. The final score of the contest was 35-38.

The final result was very different the last time that the Irish met the Blue Devils. Playing in Durham, Notre Dame delivered a message that what happened in 2016 was what should be a one time affair. Led by quarterback Ian Book, who threw for four touchdowns, the Irish took the victory 7-38. Fan favorites, Chase Claypool and Chris Finke, combined for three touchdowns. Additionally, Troy Pride Jr. had an interception against the Blue Devils.

This 2020 meeting will mark the seventh game between the Irish and their Carolina competitors. If the history of this matchup is any indication of how the game will play out, then the Irish should be feeling extremely confident.


2019 Performance and Outlook

Duke went 5-7 on the season in 2019, finishing second to last in the ACC. In 2020, they will be looking to change their luck. The Blue Devils are fortunate enough to welcome back most of their key offensive pieces for the 2020 season. The biggest loss will be seen in fifth year quarterback Quentin Harris, who recently put his name in the 2020 NFL Draft.

It is still uncertain who will take Harris’ place. The Blue Devils coaching staff has to choose between redshirt junior Chris Katrenick, who has played in seven games and thrown two touchdowns and one interception, and redshirt sophomore Gunnar Holmberg, who missed the 2019 season with a knee injury. Also flying under the radar is incoming freshman quarterback, Luca Diamont. The three star recruit turned down offers from Alabama and Washington State to come play at Duke. It will be a battle for the starting spot.

Another area of strength in the Blue Devils’ offense is their receiving corps. Returning four receivers, rising sophomores Jalon Calhoun, Eli Pancol, Darrell Harding Jr. and rising junior Jake Bobo, whoever is in the drivers seat will have plenty of options to throw to. A deep Blue Devil receiving corps will be interesting to watch against Notre Dame’s consistently solid secondary on defense.

Rising redshirt junior center Will Taylor will be returning, alongside rising redshirt sophomore offensive guard Maurice McIntire and rising redshirt senior offensive tackle Robert Kraeling. These three key pieces on Duke’s line will prove to be a huge stabilizing factor as many other variables change around them. 

Last season the Blue Devils’ offense was all over the place with their scheme. Even with a talented roster, the offense switched between a variety of schemes, ranging all the way from five wide to the triple option. Establishing a playing style for the 2020 season may be completely dependent on who takes on the role of QB1.


(Way-too-early) predictions

Hayden Adams — Sports Editor

All due respect to David Cutcliffe for the good coach he is, but things are different than they were when the Blue Devils bested the Irish in South Bend 38-35. Daniel Jones is now a member of the New York Giants, and Brian VanGorder is now a member of the Bowling Green Falcons coaching staff.

Those two facts, and particularly the second one, put this LARGELY in Notre Dame’s favor. Duke may own Notre Dame in basketball, but as far as football goes, the Irish reign supreme, and that will continue in this one.

FINAL: Notre Dame 45, Duke 10


Jimmy Ward — Associate Sports Editor

The ACC is second to only the SEC when it comes to star football talent production. Even so, the ACC is leaps and bounds behind the standard set by their counterparts down south. If Duke’s 5-7 trend from last year carries over into this year the Irish should put on a clinic against the Blue Devils.

This should give us something to look forward to before our ‘friends’ from down south come into Notre Dame Stadium and present our impending doom with Trevor Lawrence and Dabo Swinney’s Clemson Tigers. The Irish blow the Blue Devils out of the water in South Bend on Halloween Night in front of (hopefully) a rowdy and rambunctious student section, giving fans and athletes alike a sliver of hope for what lies ahead the next weekend when the Tigers come to town.

Final: Notre Dame 52, Duke 7


Iñigo Yturralde — Sports Writer

I expect this to be a tune up game for the Irish. Coming off of a big stage in Pittsburgh, Notre Dame will feel like the kings of the world back on home turf. I expect Brian Kelly to use this game as a test for many of his second string players, in preparation for the game against Clemson. The most exciting thing about watching second string players play is the intensity and flare that they bring to the table. Playing in front of a home crowd, the Irish will be reinforced by all of the Halloween energy. As the weather begins to change, winter is coming and the Duke Blue Devils do not stand a chance against this Notre Dame team.

FINAL: Notre Dame 42, Duke 14


Nate Moller — Sports Writer

As all Irish fans painfully learned last year, coming off of a bye week is not always a good thing. On top of that, I fear that many Irish players will be looking ahead to the Clemson game the following week. The Irish are definitely a superior team in almost all respects to Duke, but this game can not be overlooked. Duke head coach David Cutcliffe knows how to get his players ready to compete, and I fully expect the Blue Devils to be fired up for the Halloween game at Notre Dame Stadium.

I expect the Irish to be a bit sluggish at first and for the game to be close at halftime, but the second half will be all Irish. The Irish simply have too much talent to get beat by Duke. When all is said and done, Notre Dame gets the job done and now all of the focus can turn to the Clemson game next weekend.

FINAL: Notre Dame 38, Duke 20

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