Notre Dame Football Primer: Irish Hit The Road to Take on Duke

A late game-winning drive redefined a season on the verge of destruction in the final two minutes against Virginia Tech. This weekend Notre Dame will travel to Durham, North Carolina to take on the Duke Blue Devils. Can the Irish finish out the remainder of this season with victories? We will see this weekend if Brian Kelly and Notre Dame can build off last week’s momentum.

Essential Game Info:

  • Game Time: November 9th at 7:30 p.m. ET on ACC Network
  • Location: Wallace Wade Stadium, Durham, North Carolina
  • Matchup History: Notre Dame is 3-2 all-time against the Duke Blue Devils (Last Meeting 2016: Duke won 38 to 35)
  • Current Odds: Notre Dame -6.0

Weather Forecast

The current forecast for GameDay shows a 10% chance of rain with a high of 47 degrees and a low of 29.

Duke Details:

  • Conference: ACC (Coastal Division)
  • Head Coach: David Cutcliffe
  • 2019 Record: 4-4
  • 2018 Record: 8-5

Duke Storylines:

Inconsistent season for David Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils. Duke started the year with a blowout loss against Alabama 42-3, then rebounded with three straight wins. Since their streak, the Duke Blue Devils have leveled off at .500 with a 4-4 record. They have even faced several opponents that Notre Dame has this fall.

Against Virginia Tech, David Cutcliffe’s team won 45-10. Conversely, facing the Virginia Cavaliers, Duke lost 48-14. The Blue Devils will be fresh for the Irish, because what team doesn’t schedule their bye-week before they play Notre Dame? It has been an up and down season for Duke but expect them to be prepared for one of the biggest games in the history of Wallace Wade Stadium.

Key Players. Quarterback Quentin Harris leads the Duke Offense. On the season, Harris is 150 for 246 (61%) with 1,500 yards, 13 passing touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Quentin Harris presents a dual-threat challenge for the Irish. He has 104 attempts for 408 yards (3.9 yards per carry) and six rushing touchdowns.

Accompanying Harris with the running attack is starting running back Deon Jackson. The Blue Devil running back has 124 rushes for 487 yards (3.9 yards per carry) with five rushing touchdowns. The top receiving targets for the Blue Devil Offense are wide receiver Jalon Calhoun and tight end Noah Gray. Calhoun leads the team with 37 receptions for 294 yards and three touchdowns while Gray has 32 catches for 238 yards with two touchdowns.

Koby Quansah and Victor Dimukeje lead Duke Defense. Quansah leads the Blue Devils with 72 tackles this season and has added 1.5 sacks as Dimukeje has a team-high 6.5 sacks with 28 tackles this fall.

Notre Dame Storylines:

Game-Winning Drive Propels Irish. When the season was on the verge of collapse, Ian Book led Notre Dame on an 18 play, 87-yard drive. Yes, the last drive of the game was aided by a few penalties, but it was a gut-checking time for the Notre Dame Football program.

At this point in the Brian Kelly Era, anything less than ten wins will be an overwhelming step backward. Last week’s game-winning drive may give the Irish momentum heading into Durham. They will undoubtedly need it because all the remaining opponents will want to beat the storied program.

What should fans think of Ian Book’s performance? Last weekend, Book went 29 for 53 with two passing touchdowns and two interceptions. On the ground, the Irish quarterback had 13 carries for 50 yards with one touchdown. The statistics were impressive considering that Notre Dame had no running game. Jafar Armstrong had 19 attempts for 37 yards.

However, throughout the contest, Ian Book still looked lackluster. He threw three interceptions, but one was called back for roughing the passer. It doesn’t look like Phil Jurkovec will see any playing time if Book is healthy. Is it a good idea to not give the potential future of the Irish, Jurkovec, more playing time now that the Irish are out of the playoff race? Only time will tell.

Notre Dame Defense gets back to consistent play. The Virginia Tech Hokies did not have the best offense in the world, but Clark Lea’s Defense held the Hokies to 13 points. Overall, Virginia Tech only had 240 yards of total offense with 12 first downs.

The Irish Defense is stacked with talent, and if they show up to play, they will present many challenges to the Duke Blue Devils. Notre Dame’s Defensive Line stepped up when they needed to last weekend and will have to get pressure against Quentin Harris if the Irish want to escape with a victory.

Head to Head Matchups:

Notre Dame Offense vs. Duke Defense: The Blue Devils have given up 26 points per game through 8 games this year. Duke surrendered 42 points to Alabama and 48 points against Virginia.

Ian Book and the Notre Dame Offense looked great for periods, but awful at other times. The Irish Offense will continue to battle the rest of the season, but injuries are starting to pile up. Even at full strength, Chip Long’s Offense has fought to put points on the board against viable competition.

This matchup is a tie.


Duke Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: Besides the Michigan game, the Irish Defense has been strong all season. At one point, the defense had the longest streak in the country of holding opponents to 30 points or less.

Duke will present a strong dual-threat option at quarterback, and David Cutcliffe is known as the quarterback guru since he coached both Peyton Manning and Eli Manning. The Blue Devils will pull out all the stops this Saturday, but the advantage in this category favors the Irish.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Special Teams: AJ Reed is the kicker for the Duke Blue Devils. Reed is 9 for 9 on the year with a long of 50 yards. Conversely, Jonathan Doerer is 6 for 8 this year with a long of 52 yards.

Unfortunately, when things were falling apart for the Irish, Doerer missed a 35-yard field goal. Perhaps the biggest play of the game was the “hold” on the extra point by Jay Bramblett. His “clutch hands” saved Notre Dame the game and a lot more potential off the field drama.

There is no distinct advantage in this category.


My Prediction:

Notre Dame looked to be in control of the Hokies until a 98-yard fumble recovery completed a 14-point swing in the game, which generated horrible flashbacks of the 2011 South Florida game and 2011 USC game. However, Ian Book led the team down the field, and the Irish found a way to win the game.

If the Irish can stay motivated for the rest of the season, there is no reason they shouldn’t be able to win this game and the final three remaining matchups. The Notre Dame Offense has struggled to put points on the board, and it won’t get any easier with all the critical injuries. Fortunately, the Irish Defense has kept the team in games almost the entire season and will be the strength of the team for the rest of the year.

Ian Book still has a major chip on his shoulder, and I think the success he had at times last week will translate over to this matchup. I predict Notre Dame will build off their comeback win and make it two straight victories.

Prediction: Notre Dame 31 Duke 28

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  1. The final drive was not aided by Penalties. The second to last drive Which ended in a missed field goal was the drive with the two big penalties

      1. Cameron Crazy’s are awesome, but they don’t call them Cameron because they are outside in an open stadium pulling for a football team. Support for Duke football is no where near its basketball
        Program. ACC football is weak this year, with the exception of Clemson. In ND only wins by three, Kelly and his staff should stay in Durham.

      2. Cameron Crazy’s are awesome, but they don’t call them Cameron because they are outside in an open stadium pulling for a football team. Support for Duke football is no where near its basketball
        Program. ACC football is weak this year, with the exception of Clemson. In ND only wins by three, Kelly and his staff should stay in Durham. Of course, Ron Burgundy it’s you being your funny self!

  2. I’m hoping the ESPN/ACC Network expands soon. I don’t have it at present. Odd my cable carrier doesn’t have it as I live in Northeastern PA–and we have the ESPN/SEC network. I can name some Pitt, Syracuse and a large contingent of ND fans in my area. I only know one SEC team fan (an Alabama fan).

    So that means I won’t get to see ND-Duke this weekend (though maybe that will be a blessing in disguise).

    AND I’m going to miss ND’s BB game tonight against North Carolina. I have a friend who’s a NC BB fan and we’re both a bit perturbed we won’t get to see the game.

      1. I’m going to try to see if I can watch it online. Since I have cable usually I can log on to the ESPN app or whatever it’s called. I remember watching one or two BB games that were only available as an ACC Extra.

        I’m going to try tonight with the ND-UNC BB game to see if that works. But I’m hoping my cable carrier adds the ACC Network soon. I think they’ll get some calls this weekend once people start to realize they’re going to miss a ND FB game (some people probably don’t even realize it yet). \

        I guess it’s on DirectTV and Dish but I have no interest in that (partly because I’m a Phillies and Penguins fan and I get NBC Sports Phila—which no satellite can carry—-and AT&T Sports Pitt which for whatever reason isn’t carried by either satellite in my area).

  3. Oh how Notredame football has regressed to the point that they are only slight favorites over Duke.I know us Notredame fans are stuck with Kelly for a few more years no matter how much talk there is of a coaching change I just dont see Jack or the powers to be firing Kelly. The only hope I see is Kelly finally bringing in a big time offensive coordinator and qb coach and giving them full control of the offense like LSU did this year.I doubt that happens either.

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