Staff Predictions: Duke Blue Devils
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, September 11, 2020
Hayden Adams — Sports Editor
Duke’s defense, offensive line and running back room have a lot of talent — more than the average fan would probably assume. David Cutcliffe is a quality coach and taking over play calling duties will certainly bolster what was an anemic offense last season, as will the addition of Clemson transfer quarterback and presumed Blue Devils starter Chase Brice. All that said, I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were a Blue Devils fan. Aside from the offensive line — and even now they’ve lost their All-ACC caliber center to an ACL injury — there are a lot of questions at most positions, especially after you get past the first-stringers, and the talent doesn’t match what Notre Dame has recruited. Add in the fact that Brice missed out on a spring in Durham and I like the Irish. With how COVID-19 has impacted preparations for this season, don’t be shocked if this starts out sloppy like last year’s opener against Louisville, but the Irish should make the adjustments that they need to.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 34, Duke 13
Jimmy Ward — Associate Sports Editor
This Blue Devils team got off to a solid start last year despite being blown out by Alabama in their first contest of the season. They are not a team that should be underestimated. However, they are simply outmatched against the Irish. Starting QB Chase Brice has had to learn a new system in a very limited time span and likely virtually in the early stages of his transfer. An odd hype surrounds Brice, but I’m not buying it one bit. His weapons diminish significantly in Durham; his protection is strong but not much talented depth is lined up behind him to work the ball downfield. I will be shocked if Brice is exposing gaps in the Irish secondary on a regular basis either. The Blue Devils are simply not equipped to keep up with the speed and intensity the Irish bring to the gridiron. They should be able to keep up for the first quarter or two as jitters will obviously affect both rosters after the extended break, but the Irish should finish them off in the second half.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 28, Duke 14
Charlotte Edmonds — Senior Sports Writer
I’m always hesitant about a David Cutcliffe offense, particularly when considering he now has Trevor Lawrence’s former backup in his locker room. Chase Brice, a pro-style quarterback, could give a young Notre Dame secondary some problems trying to contain the passing game. That said, Brice doesn’t have the same elite receiving targets he had at Clemson. He’s gonna have to be a lot craftier with his feet to keep his team in the game. I predicted a one-touchdown win for the Irish last year and was proven wildly wrong. I’m not willing to make that mistake twice. I’m betting on the Irish this time.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 38, Duke 14
Ellen Geyer — Senior Sports Writer
Duke certainly has more talent than they did the last time they faced Notre Dame, their shining star being Chase Brice, a transfer quarterback out of Clemson. Given that the Blue Devils didn’t have spring practice to adjust to a new offense around Brice, they’ve likely been using everyday since Aug. 1 trying to make up for lost time. It won’t be enough compared to an Irish team that’s been centered around Ian Book for the past year and a half. Notre Dame will either come out slow and open it up after the half, or come out guns blazing and let things slow around the middle of the second quarter. Regardless, they’ll come out with a victory in what will be a very different atmosphere in Notre Dame Stadium, setting the tone for the season early on.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 42, Duke 14
Aidan Thomas — Sports Writer
I just don’t see a feasible way Notre Dame loses this one. In last year’s season opener, the Irish got off to a slow start before overcoming the Louisville Cardinals. I think this could be a similar storyline, although I think Duke has less talent than last year’s Louisville squad. Chase Brice is under center for the Blue Devils, but his minimal playing experience plus the lack of promising playmakers around him make me question whether he can put up any points on the Irish defense. Ideally, Notre Dame is up by 2-3 touchdowns by the third quarter, and the team can focus on seeing how to best utilize its unproven talent on offense. Ian Book will throw for three touchdowns, and Chris Tyree will make a splash with a receiving and rushing touchdown in his collegiate debut.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 38, Duke 10