HALFTIME: Duke 14, Baylor 7

Right from the first offensive play, Duke starting quarterback Daniel Jones had top wide receiver T.J. Rahming streaking down the field and lofted the ball perfectly into Rahming’s hands. But Rahming dropped the ball, the first of many missed opportunities for the Blue Devils. 

The next play, Duke fumbled the ball.

Despite that, the Blue Devils lead Baylor 14-7 at halftime at Wallace Wade Stadium. Although Baylor scored first two plays after the turnover on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Zach Smith to wideout Denzel Mims, Duke responded with two long touchdown runs, a 50-yarder by Shaun Wilson and one for 34 yards from redshirt freshman Brittain Brown.

The Blue Devils have made a litany of mistakes on offense, as they have looked nothing like the team that put up 41 points and 538 yards against Northwestern last week. Jones has been under pressure for the majority of his dropbacks, with the Bears nearly matching their season total for sacks with three in the first half, and Duke wide receiver Chris Taylor caught the ball out of bounds on what could have been a long touchdown reception. 

The Blue Devils had the ball in the red zone twice late in the second quarter but failed to come away with any points, missing a short field goal before Jones threw an interception in the end zone and their next possession in the final minute.

Luckily for Duke, Baylor has not been able to capitalize on its sloppiness, with the Bears amassing 10 penalties, often extending the Blue Devils' offensive drives. If Duke can put it all together in the second half, this matchup may get out of hand.

Here are some observations from the first half:

  • The Blue Devils have put an emphasis on establishing a run game. It has run the ball 25 times to only 20 passes, with moderate success outside the two big runs.
  • Baylor continues to try to get its speedy wide receivers on the outside, with 11 of Smith’s 19 passes targeted for Mims and Platt. 
  • Smith has largely struggled in the first half, completing just six of his 19 pass attempts for 84 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
  • Wilson’s touchdown run—his fifth career one for at least yards—sets a new program record for career 50-plus yard touchdown runs.
  • Kicker Austin Parker missed a 31-yard field goal, continuing Duke’s struggles at kicker since Ross Martin departed two seasons ago.

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