Before the Boxscore: Notre Dame and Duke Match Up Numbers for Saturday Night Battle

Perusing key stats as Irish look to return to win column against the Blue Devils

Coming off their first loss of the 2023 campaign, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish now face another challenge with a nighttime road matchup against the Duke Blue Devils. This meeting presents a different challenge from the four clashes of the past two decades when the trio of Irish wins came by an average of 22 points.

That’s because the Blue Devils currently sport an undefeated record and will have a hyped-up crowd behind them. In many ways, the game mirrors Notre Dame’s other trip to North Carolina earlier this month, when they battled through a lengthy weather delay to defeat the North Carolina State Wolfpack amid a hostile crowd.

Duke vs. Notre Dame Opponent Stats

DukeNotre Dame Opponents
Scoring: Points/Game37.312.8
First Downs: Total9177
First Downs: Rushing – Passing – By Penalty35 – 48 – 829 – 34 – 14
Rushing: Yards / Attempt5.653.18
Rushing: Attempts – Yards – TD142 – 802 – 15175 – 556 – 5
Passing: Rating146.9491.37
Passing: Yards896747
Passing: Attempts – Completions – Interceptions – TD109 – 75 – 0 – 3135 – 64 – 5 – 2
Total Offense: Yards / Play6.764.2
Total Offense: Plays – Yards251 – 1698310 – 1303
Punt Returns: Yards / Return14.578
Punt Returns: Returns – Yards – TD7 – 102 – 07 – 56 – 0
Kickoff Returns: Yards / Return13.3327
Kickoff Returns: Returns – Yards – TD3 – 40 – 07 – 189 – 0
Punting: Yards / Punt52.942.65
Punting: Punts – Yards10 – 52926 – 1109
Interceptions: Returns – Yards – TD4 – 5 – 00 – 0 – 0
Fumbles: Number – Lost4 – 39 – 0
Penalties: Number – Yards20 – 14423 – 180
Time of Possession / Game30:01.0028:46.00
3rd Down Conversions: Conversion %44.44%37.66%
3rd Down Conversions: Attempts – Conversions45 – 2077 – 29
4th Down Conversions: Conversion %57.14%60%
4th Down Conversions: Attempts – Conversions7 – 410 – 6
Red Zone: Success %84.21%56.25%
Red Zone: Attempts – Scores19 – 1616 – 9
Field Goals: Success %71.40%50%
Field Goals: Attempts – Made7 – 510 – 5
PAT Kicking: Success %100%100%
PAT Kicking: Attempts – Made18 – 187 – 7
2-Point Conversions: Success %100%
2-Point Conversions: Attempts – Made1 – 10 – 0
Stats from

Battle Behind Center

Sam Hartman continues to deliver consistent play for Notre Dame, in part because the offensive line’s only misstep in 2023 was a bumpy performance at North Carolina State. That resulted in four sacks, yet the Irish still emerged with a comfortable win. His array of potential weapons seems to expand on a weekly basis, whether it’s the emerging depth in the running game or the 15 different receivers that have caught a pass in the first five games. Hartman can’t match his Duke counterpart when it comes to mobility but his skill in adjusting to big-game atmospheres should go a long way on Saturday night.

One of those aforementioned similarities to the Wolfpack in this clash is the presence of a mobile quarterback. Riley Leonard has the size needed as a signal-caller but he also can move with the ball. He actually has more touchdowns on runs than through Duke’s passing attack, where he’s again focusing on his two main targets, Jordan Moore and Jalon Calhoun. He hasn’t thrown any interceptions this year, partly because he’s only been sacked twice. If the Irish can’t bring him down, they definitely need to deliver pressure to keep him in check.

Notre Dame vs. Duke Opponent Stats

Notre DameDuke Opponents
Scoring: Points/Game39.68.8
First Downs: Total11477
First Downs: Rushing – Passing – By Penalty52 – 59 – 339 – 35 – 3
Rushing: Yards / Attempt5.583.8
Rushing: Attempts – Yards – TD178 – 994 – 10140 – 532 – 2
Passing: Rating199.0493.83
Passing: Yards1392573
Passing: Attempts – Completions – Interceptions – TD132 – 93 – 0 – 16129 – 71 – 4 – 3
Total Offense: Yards / Play7.74.11
Total Offense: Plays – Yards310 – 2386269 – 1105
Punt Returns: Yards / Return7.834.17
Punt Returns: Returns – Yards – TD6 – 47 – 06 – 25 – 0
Kickoff Returns: Yards / Return1921
Kickoff Returns: Returns – Yards – TD6 – 114 – 09 – 189 – 0
Punting: Yards / Punt48.3339.9
Punting: Punts – Yards12 – 58020 – 798
Interceptions: Returns – Yards – TD5 – 33 – 10 – 0 – 0
Fumbles: Number – Lost5 – 25 – 4
Penalties: Number – Yards27 – 25013 – 151
Time of Possession / Game31:14.0029:59.00
3rd Down Conversions: Conversion %53.70%43.10%
3rd Down Conversions: Attempts – Conversions54 – 2958 – 25
4th Down Conversions: Conversion %60%22.22%
4th Down Conversions: Attempts – Conversions5 – 39 – 2
Red Zone: Success %88.89%50%
Red Zone: Attempts – Scores18 – 1610 – 5
Field Goals: Success %42.90%0%
Field Goals: Attempts – Made7 – 33 – 0
PAT Kicking: Success %100%100%
PAT Kicking: Attempts – Made27 – 275 – 5
2-Point Conversions: Success %
2-Point Conversions: Attempts – Made0 – 00 – 0
Stats from

A Running Variety

Any concern that shutting down Audric Estime would neutralize the Irish running game was effectively put to rest last Saturday night. Of the 176 yards gained against Ohio State, only 70 came from Estime, with 97 combined yards coming from Jeremiyah Love, Gi’Bran Payne and Jadarian Price. That complete total was roughly what Notre Dame gained against North Carolina State and should be a good benchmark to assess their effort this week. Clemson was able to gouge the Duke run defense for 213 yards earlier this month, so the opportunity exists to exploit that apparent flaw.

The Blue Devils’ top three rushers of Jordan Waters, Leonard and Jaquez Moore have averaged 6.6 yards every time they carry the ball. Some may believe that those numbers were padded on the basis of Duke’s past three opponents: Lafayette, Northwestern and Connecticut. However, this trio also combined to gain 199 yards against Clemson for an even better average of 7.3 yards-per-carry. Notre Dame’s run defense suffered only one major hiccup against Ohio State and otherwise kept a lid on their talented corps of runners, a task they’ll be asked to again perform again this week.

Efficient Passing Defenses

Facing an offense like Ohio State resulted in Notre Dame dropping to second among all FBS teams when it comes to pass efficiency. The team’s 91.37 rating is still outstanding and representative of the collective work that’s held opponents to an average of just under 11 points per game. Despite just seven sacks, the Irish have still made 19 stops behind the line for a total of 118 yards. A total of 25 quarterback hurries as well as 21 pass breakups for this unit have also played key roles in limiting opponent scoring. On the turnover front, there have been five interceptions and seven forced fumbles, though no fumble recoveries yet.

Breathing down the neck of the Irish in the pass efficiency department is Duke, which is ranked fourth with a rating of 93.82. They’ve allowed just under nine points per contest and only once given up more than seven in a contest. Blue Devil defenders have collected 25 tackles-for-loss for 109 yards and have eight sacks. The Irish have a decided edge in quarterback hurries, with Duke managing just 11 in that department while the 20 pass breakups fall in line with Notre Dame’s numbers. This contingent has four pickoffs on the year and has recovered four fumbles, forcing three.

Dealing in the Red Zone

Both teams rank among the top 10 in the nation when it comes to defending in the Red Zone. Duke is second overall, with Notre Dame not far behind in the 10th spot, with the difference coming in field goals allowed. Duke has yet to allow any three-pointers in this area while Notre Dame has allowed four, with both teams giving up five touchdowns. Last season, Duke wasn’t been quite as efficient, giving up scores on 36 of the 41 attempts made. The Irish offered similar numbers with 32 of 34 forays resulting in a score.

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  1. In just the past few years, Wake Forest has supplied Notre Dame with great talent the likes of Mike Elko, Clark Lea, and now Sam Hartman. All turned out to be sadly short-term, but all for legit. reasons.
    Tiny, basketball-crazy Wake Forest.

  2. I’m a Notre Dame grad living in Columbus Ohio. I’m going to write a book one day about how self-centered and myopic the view on N. High St. in Columbus Ohio really is. That’s not sour grapes. That’s the truth. The mentality 99% of the time is I have one win and 11 losses as long as that win is over Michigan that it’s still good. That hasn’t happened but their view of the world is a rather skewed one. I have an entire notebook of Ohio State quotes from the media and from people throughout the years and it’s unbelievable.
    I we have two road games for two consecutive weeks after a big game like this. Then we come back home to USC. Who designed the schedule? Oh well time to put nearly 40 points on the board and unleash Hartman and familiar territory and keep 11 man on the field and put the train back on the track.
    My heart breaks for the entire Notre Dame nation, and my stomach still feels like it has a temporary ulcer, the likes of which is equivalent to Boston College in 1993.
    This one hurts. Time to put on a big win.
    ESPN made a note that Duke has Al scored their opponents by 110 points and they have beaten the top 10 team and they’re the only team to do so anything like that so far this season. Let’s not take these blue Devils for granted we need two victories in a row before the university of spoiled children from Pasadena come to town.

    1. Her’s the thing with having Hartman let ‘er rip now….
      People are immediatelty going to ask “Where the hell was that last week?!”
      And which is what the coaching staff should have known they had, better than anyone.

  3. Watching Temple tonight, ESPN showed a graphic of ND’s remaining games, with analytics probabilities.

    Should ND win out….(the worst game odds are approx. 60% against USC at home, and vs. Clemson on the road) the chance of making the playoff — IF THEY ARE TO RUN THE TABLE — is 30%.

    Sorry, Jeff. Reality sucks.

    1. I doubt Notredame gets in even if they finish 11 and 1 if all those conferences sec, acc, big 10, big 12, pac 10 have conference champions finish with 1 loss. There is just too much Notredame bias imo for them to select Notredame over an Oregon, Washington, Utah, Oklahoma,Texas, Penn State,Michigan, Florida State,Alabama etc. The committee favors
      a conference champion over an independent Notredame.Also they will use the fact that Notredame hasn,’t won a major bowl since 1993 and they have been blown out
      on the big stage in previous playoffs and the bcs national championship game against Alabama when Kelly was interviewing with the Philadelphia Eagles instead of preparing his team.

  4. Urban Meyer weighs in…..

    “:…but do you understand that Ryan Day just won a game where his life would be different if he lost that game? And somebody sticks a microphone in his face probably four minutes after it happened? He’s allowed to say what he wants to say, and you respect that….”
    And even THAT was softballing the scenario!
    As a disciple of Woody Hayes, Lou Holtz raised the stakes of that game by muliples in calling out Smith. On national TV. Holtz put Smith on death watch. Uncalled for, unwise, and inexplicable.
    Old people should take ther meds.

  5. Sadly we want Ohio State to run the table. I’d prefer the Big Ten to get lost in Russia.
    But if Ohio St runs the table and ND runs the rest of the table, the Irish could be in the playoff.

    First this Duke game. The Irish offense needs a 30 point plus game. There needs to be a turning point in which both the run game and passing game explode.
    The defense needs 2 to 3 turnovers. And keep Duke under 20 points.
    Those are musts.

    Both coaches and players better be pissed and looking to flatten the next opponent.

    1. tOSU and USC were the keys to the season. It all came down to those two gams, and holding serve on the remainder.
      Well one is gone….and IMO, the other looked less likely to begin with.

      1. David
        I agree with every word you said. In my previous post. I stated that I am a Notre Dame grad living in Columbus Ohio. I seriously have contemplated moving this week.

        I don’t see Notre Dame getting in the playoff and if we’re not careful we could overlook Duke Clemson could be rebuilding and I think USC is just too good this year. Caleb Williams.. is one of the most arrogant people I’ve ever seen but he’s a great athlete.( I did enjoy our Catholic brothers from Tulane exposing US C for what they were not and it would be sweet to see Notre Dame do the same in South Bend in October)

        Right now, Notre Dame concentrates on recruits within 99% of the games remaining getting to a bowl game, camping world bowl or gator bowl and winning.
        Meanwhile, if OSU gets to the national championship game, I’ll be wearing the colors of the other team. Not sorry to admit that.

        Around here in Columbus, Ohio Notre Dame is considered irrelevant and a relic of the past. However, when they defeat Notre Dame, suddenly, it is a great win for the program and historical and it is raising the bar for the program. I guess you can have it two ways if you’re Ohio State.

        Three tough games a year eight or nine cupcakes, a year, more home games than most people and then complain but Alabama does the same thing and whine when you don’t get the respect you think you deserve there’s no agreeing to disagree with Ohio State fans. The mentality is all of that and worse, and I will publish commentary from the media, and from fans that I have heard and written down over the years, you would not believe how arrogant and pompous and self-centered it is.

        You move past a win, but it’s still stings for a long time kind of like Boston College in 93.
        Go Irish CRUSH DUKE!

      2. ND has a long road before it’s a playoff-quality program.
        Starting with coaching, which as evidenced by the personnel blunder last week…twice!…. is not quite ready for prime time.

        If they can play quality, entertaining brand of football, that’s a huge step forward from the past deade of the Purple Fraud, who clearly considered his time at ND as a prison sentence.

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