Statline: 24-for-32, 290 passing yards, three passing touchdowns, one interception.
The good: Redshirt freshman Daniel Jones led the Blue Devils to a comeback win in one of the most hostile environments in all of college football to pull off a 38-35 upset against Notre Dame. After delivering solid performances the past few weeks, the Charlotte native had the game of his young career, as he showed a level of poise and mastery of the offense beyond his years. Jones entered the game leading all FBS freshmen in passing yards, total offense and completions, and he came out of it with a more solidified position on the top of those statistical leaderboards.
The 6-foot-5 playcaller started the game off completing 10 for his first 11 passes, with his first touchdown coming in the second quarter on a 25-yard pass down the right sideline to redshirt junior receiver Quay Chambers. His last touchdown of the day came late in the fourth quarter—a 64-yard throw to redshirt senior wideout Anthony Nash—which tied the game at 35. Then, with 1:24 left in the game, kicker A.J. Reed slotted in the game-winning 19-yard field goal after Jones marched the team down the field one last time.
The bad: Although Notre Dame’s quarterback, DeShone Kizer, had 381 yards through the air yesterday, there were not many negatives for the Blue Devils in the big win. Although the Fighting Irish's prolific passing offense implies Duke’s secondary had a bad day, senior cornerback Breon Borders had an impressive game—with five total tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and three pass breakups—leading the squad against the talented Notre Dame offense. Duke held Notre Dame to only 153 rushing yards while also punishing them on the offensive side of the ball. There really was not much to complain about the Blue Devils' performance on the field, but Duke lost redshirt senior safety DeVon Edwards for the season after he tore his ACL and MCL in the first quarter.
The bottom line: After losing two straight games to subpar opponents, the Blue Devils' win against a team like Notre Dame is exactly what they needed to halt their rough skid. With opponents like Louisville, North Carolina and Miami looming in the second half of the season, Duke needs to continue to put together wins like this if it expects to contend in the ACC this year.
Honorable mention: With 229 all-purpose yards, Shaun Wilson had a standout game against the Fighting Irish. The junior running-back’s 96-yard kickoff return—the Blue Devils' first score of the game—sparked Duke to rally from a 14-point deficit and get back into the game. Although a backup to Jela Duncan on the depth chart, Wilson’s performance against Notre Dame proved why he is invaluable to the team, and he will likely return kickoffs for the rest of the year due to Edwards' injury.
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