Duke picked up one its biggest wins in program history Saturday afternoon, shocking Notre Dame 38-35 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Ind. The Blue Devils overcame an early 14-point deficit and a possible season-ending injury to one of their leaders in the first quarter to snap a two-game losing streak and return to .500 at 2-2. 

Revisiting the three keys to the game:

  • Get on the board early: After a slow start that saw redshirt senior safety DeVon Edwards exit with a knee injury and the Blue Devils fall behind 14-0, they exploded for 28 points in the first half. Duke found a rhythm offensively, gashing Notre Dame both on the ground and in the air. Although the Blue Devil offense cooled off in the third quarter, Duke scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win the game.
  • Limit big plays by Notre Dame’s offense: Duke struggled to prevent explosive plays in the passing game—the Fighting Irish averaged 17.3 yards per completion. But the Blue Devils slowed down Notre Dame’s running attack, surrendering 4.1 yards per carry and just one run that went for more than 20 yards, and got stops in the fourth quarter when it mattered most.
  • Stop the mistakes: Unlike in its previous meetings with Wake Forest and Northwestern, Duke was consistent on both sides of ball. After committing 10 turnovers in their first three games, the Blue Devils lost the ball just once on an interception and were whistled for only one penalty, which backed them up five yards. 

Three key plays:

  • 8:44 remaining, first quarter: After Edwards got hurt and the Fighting Irish took a 14-0 lead, Duke quickly responded when junior running back Shaun Wilson returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown, using a juke move to dodge a would-be tackler and outrunning Notre Dame's coverage the rest of the way. The return shifted the game’s momentum, as the Blue Devils then stopped the Fighting Irish and knotted the game at 14-14 on their following drive.
  • 6:47 remaining, fourth quarter: Notre Dame began to regain control of the game when they took a 35-28 lead with 7:46 to play. But Duke rebounded once again with a three-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a 64-yard touchdown reception by redshirt senior wide receiver Anthony Nash, who sprinted down the left sideline for his second touchdown of the day after catching a short pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Jones.
  • 1:24 remaining, fourth quarter: Following an interception by senior cornerback Breon Borders, the Blue Devils drove down the field and took an 38-35 lead with a 19-yard field goal by A.J. Reed, the first made field goal of the true freshman's career. Duke’s defense then forced a turnover on downs on the Fighting Irish's ensuing drive to clinch the win.

Three keys stats:

  • Duke finishes with 498 total yards: The Blue Devils rebounded from two subpar offensive showings with their most consistent performance of the season. Duke kept Notre Dame’s defense off balance with 290 passing yards and 208 rushing yards. The Blue Devils also kept their drives alive, converting 43 percent of their third downs.
  • Jordan Hayes and Alonzo Saxton combine for 12 tackles: Hayes started in place of senior safety Deondre Singleton, who sat out the first half after being ejected for targeting against Northwestern. The redshirt freshman finished with a team-leading seven tackles and recorded an assisted sack. After seeing little playing time in Duke’s first three games, Saxton replaced Edwards and registered five tackles and one pass breakup.
  • Duke forces three turnovers: For the first time this season, the Blue Devils won the turnover battle. Duke turned its three takeaways into a combined 10 points—including the game-winning field goal in the closing minutes.

And the Duke game ball goes to…Daniel Jones

After looking uncomfortable in the pocket against Wake Forest and Northwestern, the Charlotte native remained poised Saturday. Although he was inaccurate on a couple of throws, Jones converted several passes down the field and finished 24-of-32 for 290 passing yards and a career-high three touchdowns. The redshirt freshman will try to build off his performance Saturday as the Blue Devils host Virginia and Army in the next two weeks.

And the Notre Dame game ball goes to…DeShone Kizer

The junior quarterback finished 22-of-37 with 380 passing yards and two touchdowns. He added another touchdown and sixty yards on the ground. Kizer displayed his intangibles and ability to make plays both inside and outside of the pocket, but the Toledo, Ohio, native also overshot a couple of his targets and committed two turnovers—one of which was a costly interception with less than six minutes to play.