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Dawg Preview: #15 ND VS #16 DUKE

Updated: Nov 3, 2023

The Fighting Irish will look to bounce back Saturday against Duke after a gut-busting last-second loss to Ohio State. Notre Dame comes in with a 29-game regular season win streak against ACC opponents that spans 4 years. Most years, a trip to Durham would be a lay-up, but this isn’t a typical Duke team, as they’re ranked 15th in the country.


Broadcast Info:

Location: Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, NC

Station: ABC at 7:30 PM EST

On the Call: Rece Davis (Play by Play), Kirk Herbstreit (analyst), and Holly Rowe (sideline reporter).

Bonus Coverage: ESPN Gameday 9 AM-Noon EST


What's at Stake?

They’re led by former Irish defensive coordinator and second-year head coach, Mike Elko, who is 13-4 since taking over for David Cutcliffe. Unsurprisingly, the Blue Devils under Elko have a high-quality defense and are top 10 statistically in the country in scoring (#4) and passing defense (#5).


Sure, this is a small sample size through 4 games, but Duke’s stingy defense most certainly poses a challenge to ND offensive coordinator, Gerard Parker and veteran QB, Sam Hartman, especially after putting up only 14 points against Ohio State last week.


To this end, the Irish will have to convert red zone opportunities and put points on the board. Missed 4th downs and missed FGs won’t cut it against top 25 opponents.


Similarly, The Blue Devil's offense will also pose a challenge. Second-year quarterback, Riley Leonard is a decent passer and a significant run threat. In fact, through 4 games, Leonard has 4 rushing touchdowns and nearly 300 yards on the ground. Leonard’s arm is less potent than his legs, but he has a respectable 778 yards through the air, 2 passing TDs, and a QBR of 80.1.

To add to the pressure, ESPN College Gameday will be live from Durham on Saturday, and the crowd and the night game atmosphere could boost Duke. Sure, the Irish have been to tougher environments than Wallace Wade Stadium and its 40,000-seat capacity, even still, coming off the loss, the pressure will be on for Coach Marcus Freeman and his men.


IRISH - State of Mind

How do we expect Notre Dame to attack Duke and get back in the win column? First, the players and coaches must bounce back mentally and be ready to take care of business. Coach Freeman stated multiple times this week that he “doesn’t want to lose to Ohio St. twice,” meaning, they need to be able to move on and get back in the win column.


On offense, we expect Notre Dame to try and bludgeon the Blue Devils with a physical run game, as this is Duke’s most glaring statistical weakness (and a strength for the Irish.)


IRISH - Key Players:

With this in mind, we feel this will open the passing game up. The Irish may be without leading WR, Jayden Thomas (hamstring) but we don’t see that as a massive issue as we don’t think the Blue Devil's secondary will be able to run with Notre Dame’s skilled players.


Look for Chris Tyree to get more touches in space, and Tobias Merriweather to get some deep shots. We also expect ND tight ends, Mitchell Evans and Holden Staes to get plenty of looks in the play-action game. To reiterate, expect a run-first offense early on, with a steady rotation of the thoroughbred Irish backfield led by Audric Estime, Jadarion Price, and Jeremiyah Love. If the Estime Express gets rolling, it will be a long night for the Blue Devil's defense.


DUKE- Key Players:

Al Golden’s defensive game plan will likely be similar to the one the Irish employed against NC ST and their dual-threat QB, Brennan Armstrong. The Irish D will look to contain Riley Leonard with Marist Liufau or Jack Kiser shadowing him. Further, we feel that standout CBs Benjamin Morris and Cam Hart should be able to mostly lock down the Blue Devils WRs.


Prediction:

It will be a hard-fought game, but the Irish physicality on offense will eventually wear the Blue Devils down. If the Irish defense limits explosive plays, we see Notre Dame icing the game by the end of the 3rd quarter.


Take the Irish -5.5 (and up to -7) Current over/under is 54. If we had to, we’d take the under, but if the Irish ground game gets cranked up and wears them down, they could easily score 40.


Notre Dame 31 - DUKE 17

Afterword:

*Patrick is a member of Dos Leprechauns Media, where he is a freelance writer for the pro-Notre Dame media outlet. He joins the many writers and reporters of College Football Dawgs.


"We are thrilled to welcome Patrick to the College Football Dawg family! He will focus on Notre Dame Football each week and help cover the fighting Irish on our behalf. Patrick joins over 60+ writers/reporters who come from all across the United States, in their mission to give the most accurate and non-biased college football content in the US."


-Hunter Dworsky

President of College Football Dawgs

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