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#9 Clemson Tigers vs. Duke Blue Devils: A Week 1 Preview

Clemson Tigers Flag at Football Game
"IMG_3881.JPG" by Shaggy Paul via Flickr

The Duke Blue Devils host the #9 Clemson Tigers on Monday, Labor Day. It will be the first meeting between the two teams since 2018, a 35-6 loss by the Blue Devils. Clemson owns a 37-16-1 record in the series and has won five of the last six meetings. In 2022, The Tigers (11-3) won 10+ games for the 12th straight year under head coach Dabo Swinney. On paper, these two teams look to be evenly matched, except in one crucial area.

Broadcast Information

Date: Monday, September 4th

Time: 8 PM EST

Where: Wallace-Wade Stadium, Durham, NC


On the Call: Dave Pasch, Dusty Dvoracek, Tom Luginbill

The Stakes

Under Swinney, Clemson is 12-2 in season-opening games, and the Tigers have never lost to a conference opponent in a season-opening game.

Duke has not won a season-opener against a ranked opponent in 13 tries. They are looking to end that streak and get a win over Clemson for the first time since a 16-13 win in 2004.

Key Players for Clemson Tigers

The Clemson offense will be led by sophomore QB Cade Klubnik. Klubnik took over the starting job from DJ Uiagalelei after a loss to South Carolina and started the ACC Championship Game vs. North Carolina. In that game, Klubnik was 20 of 24 for 279 yards and one touchdown and added a rushing touchdown in a 39-10 win over the Tar Heels. Klubnik finished the season with 697 yards, two TDs, and three INTs.

RB Will Shipley led the Tigers in rushing with 1182 yards and 15 touchdowns. He scored six TDs in the first three games last season on his way to 1st Team All-ACC honors.

On defense, Clemson returns eight starters to a unit that ranked in the Top 5 in sacks (44) and Tackles for loss (111), led by:

· DT Tyler Davis: 31 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks.

· S Jalyn Phillips: 74 tackles, 1 INT, 3 pass breakups.

· LB Jeremiah Trotter, Jr.: 89 tackles, 2 INT (1 returned for TD), 13.5 TFLs, 6.5 sacks, 1 forced fumble.

Key Players for Duke Blue Devils

Quarterback Riley Leonard leads a Duke offense that returns 10 starters. Leonard passed for 2967 yards, 20 TDs, and only six INTs. In addition, Leonard rushed for 699 yards (led the team) and scored another 13 touchdowns. Leonard threw at least one touchdown pass in 12 of 13 games last season.

The Blue Devils return their top three wide receivers who combined for 153 catches, 1929 receiving yards, and 14 touchdowns:

· Jalon Calhoun: 62 catches, 873 yards, 4 touchdowns.

· Jordan Moore: 60 catches, 656 yards, 5 touchdowns.

· Sahmir Hagans: 31 catches, 400 yards, 5 TDs.

On defense, Duke returns eight starters and is led by DB Jaylen Stinson (75 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble) and LB Cam Dillon (61 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles).

Prediction: Clemson vs. Duke

Clemson ranked 76th nationally in pass defense, allowing 231 yards per game. That bodes well for the Blue Devils as Leonard averaged 228 yards passing per game last season. Duke returns four of their five starters on the offensive line. Leonard will be the better, more experienced quarterback on the field Monday night.

And frankly, Duke has the better defensive mind who just happens to be the head coach in Mike Elko. Clemson ranked #71st in sacks allowed with 28 (2 per game). Look for the Blue Devils to pressure Klubnik early and often.

Duke pulls the upset win at home 31-27 over the Top 10-ranked Clemson Tigers.



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