Duke proved that when the competition gets tougher, so do the Blue Devils. One week after a 53-point win over FCS program N.C. Central, the Blue Devils were expected to be met with a little more resistance versus Northwestern of the Big Ten conference.
For the second straight week Duke (2-0) was able to cruise, defeating the Wildcats 41-17. It was the first time the Blue Devils defeated Northwestern in Durham since 1998.
Quarterback Daniel Jones accounted for four scores, and the Blue Devils’ defense forced three turnovers and picked up four sacks, holding the Wildcats to 191 yards of total offense. Northwestern came into the contest having won eight of the last nine meetings, but Duke picked up right where it left off last week, clicking on offense and playing smothering defense.
Jones finished with 305 yards passing and two touchdowns and picked up another 108 with his legs to go along with two scores on the ground. Duke rolled up 538 yards of total offense.
By the time he hit tight end Davis Koppenhaver for a 1-yard score, the Blue Devils led 31-10 with 3:08 remaining in the third. Shaun Wilson rushed for an 8-yard score to start the fourth, putting Duke up 38-10, the final nail in the coffin.
The Blue Devils forced two turnovers in the second half – both interceptions – as the Wildcats came up empty on four of the five possessions in the second half.
Not much went wrong for Duke in the first half. After Northwestern kicked a field goal to go up 3-0 on its second drive, the Blue Devils scored 21 unanswered, with Jones having a hand in all three scores. The redshirt sophomore from Charlotte rushed for two scores and threw for one more as Duke scored on three consecutive drives that covered 80, 74 and 37 yards.
Jones shook off his first interception in his last 202 attempts to lead the Blue Devils on a 13-play drive, capped off when he rushed the final 11 yards for his first score of the day. After the Duke defense forced a three-and-out, Jones completed five consecutive passes, the final one covering 52-yards to a wide-open Chris Taylor for the touchdown, putting the Blue Devils up 14-3 after the PAT. Jones’ final touchdown of the half was a 4-yard run with 9:15 remaining in the first half.
All wasn’t perfect for Duke in the first 30 minutes. The Blue Devils’ next drive was ruined by penalties that took them out of scoring position. Their final drive of the half led to points for Northwestern. Brittain Brown lost a fumble, and the Wildcats took advantage, going 54 yards in five plays, ending with a 5-yard scoring run by Justin Jackson, giving Duke a 21-10 lead at the break.
Blue Devils’ junior wide receiver T.J. Rahming had a stellar day, catching 12 passes for 127 yards. His 12 catches tied a career-high. Duke hosts Baylor next Saturday at 12:30 p.m.