Daniel Jones has passed for 800 yards through three weeks, but he has also committed five turnovers ...

X Factor: Duke football vs. Notre Dame

The Blue Devils have stumbled to their worst start in five years, and their schedule is only getting tougher. Duke travels to South Bend, Ind., to play at Notre Dame Saturday at 3:30, in need of a major upset to improve to 2-2. Every week throughout the football season, we’ll break down a player on each team who could be the difference-maker in the upcoming contest.

Duke: Quarterback Daniel Jones

As the Blue Devil offense continues to struggle, a win this week against a historically strong Notre Dame program will only be possible if redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Jones steps up to the occasion. Jones had 279 passing yards and zero touchdowns against Northwestern last week, with Duke's running backs accounting for the team’s only two scores. Jones has showcased his ability to succeed at times in the passing game with 800 total yards through the air this season, but hasn’t been able to finish off drives with touchdowns. The Charlotte native has just two passing touchdowns this year and has committed five turnovers in the last three games.

In order to return home with a much-needed win Saturday against the Fighting Irish, Jones will need to capitalize against the struggling Notre Dame defense, which has allowed opposing teams to score more than 500 yards in both of their losses. Jones and the Duke offense will need to use this to their advantage to gain yardage and score touchdowns when they reach the red zone in what could be a high-scoring game.

Northwestern: Wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown

Backed by a strong quarterback in junior DeShone Kizer, sophomore Equanimeous St. Brown has been a vital part of the Fighting Irish offense, with 243 receiving yards and three touchdowns on the season. Kizer has made his 6-foot-5 receiver his top target, as St. Brown leads Notre Dame every major receiving category. 

But even with 344 passing yards against Michigan State last week, the Spartans still came out on top after outgaining the Fighting Irish 260-57 on the ground. St. Brown had 83 yards and a touchdown during that contest and will likely be a focal point of the offense again against a reeling Duke secondary which allowed Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson to pass for more than 300 yards last week.

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