Duke at Northwestern
Time: 11 AM CT
Spread: NW -2.5
The Duke Blue Devils began its 2018 season with a Week 1 victory over Army, 34-14. Now, the Devils head to Chicago to face Northwestern as 2.5-point underdogs in Week 2. Northwestern also was a week 1 victor as it downed Conference rival Purdue 31-27. The over/under for this collision is set at 47.5 points according to NCAA football oddsmaker at bookmaker 5dimes.
Duke got a nice start from its quarterback Daniel Jones against Army. Jones threw 13 of 17 for completion, though he did make one miscue–an interception–while failing to throw into the end zone. That work (the TDs) was accomplished by the backfield, and Jones, rushing the ball three times into the end zone as it amassed 184 yards on 34 carries. Brittain Brown led the team in total yardage with 75 yards on 11 carries, while Jones was good for 43 yards from the pocket on his 10 rushing attempts (with a long of 14-yards). Duke WR Aaron Young also had a day for himself with 114 yards on just four catches, including a TD and a 61-yard reception.
Duke finished 7-6 last season with a 3-5 mark in the ACC. Daniel Jones is now in his third season though, and thus far his tenure has been pretty good for Duke. He threw 14 TDs last year, and 12 of those were to returning players. Tight ends Daniel Helm, Noah Gray, and Davis Kloppenhaver are all fine options for short passes, while all three wide receivers are returning starters, too.
Brown is also a great running back who rushed for 701 yards last year as a freshman. Expect the host of experience at the skill positions to be a major boost for Duke this year, which has always (since its successful era) been an offensively-minded team, at any rate.
Northwestern relied on a very balanced attack in Week 1 as it defeated the improved Purdue Boilermakers. The Wildcats rushed for 166 yards and threw for 235, as Clayton Thorson went 16 of 26 for 172 yards, and backup TJ Green had another 63 yards on 7 of 11 passing. Jeremy Larkin was the star of the backfield with 143 yards on 26 carries and a pair of Touchdowns. No one else had that many carries or that much success, though Thorson did hold it eight times himself for a mere three yards.
The Wildcats picked up seven sacks and five tackles for loss in the game, led by Nate Hall’s 10 tackles (7 solo, 1 for loss). JR Pace had three sacks in the game, and that looks to be a point of emphasis for Northwestern this year: better pressure on QBs. The secondary reaped the benefits of the additional pressure, as Purdue QB Elijah Sindelar threw three interceptions in the game and David Blough of the Boilermakers fumbled once while managing just 19 yards on his five attempts.
All over, the effects of a tougher Wildcat defense were seen in Purdue’s struggles, though the game was just a 4-point victory margin. The dominance Northwestern showed went beyond the scoreboard, and the defensive improvements were notable.