No. 17 Duke welcomes No. 11 Notre Dame to Brooks Field at Wallace Wade Stadium on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night’s matchup will be the Blue Devils’ toughest outing this season. Both teams feature veteran led x-factors on both sides of the ball. Duke head coach Mike Elko, who is the former defensive coordinator for the fighting Irish under Brian Kelly, has been the catalyst to a complete culture change in just two seasons at Duke. The Blue Devils are looking to become 5-0 for the first time since 1994.
Here are three things to watch:
Same Song Different Beat
Duke under Mike Elko stand at 11-0 when scoring first, which includes 4-0 this season.
Points of emphasis
Both teams score points in bunches averaging at least 35 points per contest. However, I believe this matchup will be decided on the defensive side of the ball. Duke is allowing just under 10 points a game, which ranks them top-5 nationally.
The Fighting Irish are top-15 nationally, allowing just under 13 points per game. Limiting big plays has been the theme for both programs.
On the year Duke, in four games, has allowed a total of 14 points in the entire second half.
The Irish are led by Audric Estime. The bruising running back who averages 7.7 yards per carry, which coach Elko stated will be a pivotal factor for his defense. In the secondary, the Blue Devils’ longest play allowed in the air has been for 24-yards. Impact players such as nickel Brandon Johnson, who Mike Elko raved on this week for his ability to disguise blitz, gives the defense another weapon.
Week in and week out Coach Elko’s focus stays the same regardless of the opponent – getting off the field on third down, controlling the turnover margin and winning the battle on special teams.
Sam Hartman, the Wake Forest transfer who suffered defeat to the same Blue Devils just a year ago, was brought to Notre Dame for one thing – to defeat Ohio State. The Blue Devils may not have the history of other national based teams, but what Mike Elko is doing in Durham is nothing short of amazing.
How to Watch
On-Air Time: 7:30 p.m.
Announcers: Rece Davis (play-by-play), Kirk Herbstreit (color analyst), and Holly Rowe (sideline)
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