Nearly two years. Seven hundred days. Duke has been waiting for redemption.

Two seasons ago, the Blue Devils may have endured their biggest football heartbreak in program history, watching as Miami lateraled the ball from side to side on a kickoff return. On the eighth lateral, Corn Elder found some daylight, breaking free for a game-winning touchdown as time expired. Despite Alonzo Saxton’s would-be tackle when he forced a Hurricane’s knee to the ground and a bevy of other close calls, it was Miami celebrating on the field while the Duke team sulked to the locker room.

Fast forward to 2017, and the Blue Devils’ roster is entirely different with an underclassmen-laden defense. Despite its youth, Duke is looking to go 5-0 for the first time in more than 20 years against No. 14 Miami Friday at 7 p.m. at Wallace Wade Stadium. Behind the top-ranked defensive efficiency in the nation, the Blue Devils have gotten off to an impressive start and hope to use their early-season momentum to erase the memories of two years ago.

“It’s obviously a memorable moment and an unpleasant memorable moment if you were on the Duke side of it,” Blue Devil head coach David Cutcliffe said. “[The worst part is] when you walk into a locker room and you’re supposed to provide an answer, and you can’t.”

Duke’s (4-0, 1-0 in the ACC) defense will have its hands full, though. Although they are second in the nation in rush defense, the Blue Devils will have to contain star running back Mark Walton, who leads the nation with an average of 13 yards per carry. Perhaps the best way to erase the Halloween nightmare of 2015 will be to tackle Walton, the player who was infamously brought down by Saxton. 

Getting to Walton may be an issue. 

The Hurricanes boast one of the most talented offensive lines in the conference, with four upperclassmen surrounding massive freshman right guard Navaughn Donaldson, who tips the scales at 350 pounds. All five starters weigh at least 300 pounds, and their size has the potential to overwhelm a Blue Devil defensive line whose starting edge rushers weigh 260 and 255 pounds, respectively.

“Their running back is probably the best one we’ve faced yet,” redshirt senior cornerback Bryon Fields Jr. said. “It’s going to be a great challenge for us.”

Walton is not the only familiar face from that game. Redshirt junior quarterback Malik Rosier—whose first college start was that contest due to an injury to then-signal caller Brad Kaaya—threw for 278 yards and two touchdowns, and has had a hot start to the season with six passing touchdowns to just one interception.

On the other side of the ball, though, the Hurricanes (2-0, 0-0) have had some issues. Despite lining up against inferior opponents in Bethune-Cookman and Toledo, Miami has struggled defensively, as the Rockets tagged Miami for 429 yards and converted 13 of their 23 third-down opportunities last week. 

The Hurricanes primarily struggled defending the pass, an area where Duke had its fair share of problems in victories against Baylor and North Carolina. Starting quarterback Daniel Jones has thrown for fewer than 400 yards and just one touchdown in the past two contests combined, as the Blue Devils have had to count on a powerful running game and a stifling defense to pull out victories.

Duke may have to rely on its struggling passing game to land the upset, as Jones will look to leading receiver T.J. Rahming to jumpstart the offense. After having to be helped off the field against Northwestern three weeks ago, Rahming finally seemed to hit his stride in the fourth quarter against the Tar Heels, making a clutch 45-yard catch between two defenders on the go-ahead touchdown drive.

Rahming will have to do more of that Friday for the Blue Devils to move the ball.

“We know Miami. Their speed, their size, their strength isn’t going to shock us,” Cutcliffe said. “They’re going to make plays. You’ve got to respond. We’re going to make plays. We’ve got to build momentum when we do.”

Duke will be relying on a bevy of players to pull the upset—a win that would likely put the Blue Devils in next week’s top 25—most of whom did not see the field in that fateful game two seasons ago. 

For those on the sidelines, it was just as painful, but Duke is not concerned with righting history. The Blue Devils claim that they just want their fifth victory.

“That stung a lot that year. I remember the day after it was kind of a little bit of disbelief,” redshirt senior center Austin Davis—the backup at the time—said. “We don’t look at that game. It happened. We’re not thinking about what happened two years ago. We’re focusing on the now.”

Mitchell Gladstone and Michael Model contributed reporting.