Explosive plays and missed opportunities had waterlogged the Blue Devils this season over and over again, but they always found a way to get back up. 

This time, the Hurricanes were too much for Duke to weather. 

For the third straight week, the Blue Devils failed to finish drives in the red zone and prevent big plays, getting burned for seven passing plays of 25 yards or more en route to a 31-6 loss against No. 14 Miami at Wallace Wade Stadium. Hurricane quarterback Malik Rosier threw for 270 yards and baffled Duke’s secondary for two quick scores in the first 10 minutes. 

After that, Miami never looked back, stifling the Blue Devils when it counted. 

"We showed up late to the party,” redshirt sophomore linebacker Joe Giles-Harris said. “I wish I could tell you [why].... You can’t do that against a team like Miami. We let them make a couple big plays early. That’s something we’ve tried to focus on and eliminate." 

In three trips to the red zone, Duke (4-1, 1-1 in the ACC) finished with just six points and never found the end zone despite only being outgained 409-349. The Blue Devils entered Friday tied for 87th in the nation in red zone offense and looked every bit the part. 

After rebounding from a clipping call against Evan Lisle to convert on third-and-19, with Shaun Wilson running to the 13-yard line, Daniel Jones was sacked on fourth-and-1 on the first series of the night. 

From there, the Hurricanes exploded. 

Although Miami (3-0, 1-0) had the nation’s leader in yards per carry in Mark Walton, the Hurricanes did not need to lean on his running to burn the Blue Devil defense. Miami circumvented Duke’s No. 2 rushing defense, needing less than six minutes after the Blue Devils' turnover on downs to put 14 points on the board thanks to Rosier’s right arm. 

Duke’s big-play woes were exposed early, yielding a 39-yard Rosier pass to Walton in which the running back hurdled a defender on the Hurricanes' third snap of the game. Just one play later, Rosier found Braxton Berrios in the back of the end zone for a 27-yard score. 

On the next drive, a Rosier 29-yard pass set up another Miami touchdown to give it a 14-0 lead just more than 10 minutes in. In the first half, Rosier completed his first nine passes and had four completions of 25 or more yards.

“[It’s on] everyone,” redshirt senior defensive tackle Mike Ramsey said. “That’s us on the defensive line putting more pressure on the quarterback and not giving him enough time. It’s everybody rallying for the ball. It’s an overall thing. When something explosive happens, it’s not just one or two people. It’s all of us.”

After those two quick scores, head coach David Cutcliffe and Duke dialed up the pressure on Rosier, who completed just six of his last 17 passes and was sacked three times. But it was too little, too late with an offense that didn’t score in the second half. 

The running game did its job, averaging 4.0 yards per carry, but Blue Devil quarterback Daniel Jones could not push the ball downfield for any significant gains, throwing for just 166 yards— averaging 4.0 yards per attempt. 

“We couldn't protect the quarterback,” Cutcliffe said. “I'm going to have to talk to all of them, study it. We misconnected completely in the passing game. It basically went away.”

The redshirt sophomore was pressured all night long, getting sacked five times and hurried constantly. Duke was not able to buy time for Jones to throw and work the ball vertically, forcing it to work mostly with short passes and screens outside. 

“They were bringing pressure where we had to do something to pick it up, and a lot of it’s on me.” Jones said. “I’ve got to play faster and get the ball out of my hands…. It’s protections and making sure we’re managing that...but you have to give a lot of credit to their defense–their front seven and secondary played great.” 

At the end of the first half, Jones brought Duke down the field quickly with six completions to give the Blue Devils a chance to trim the deficit to one possession at the break. But the offense sputtered once again in the red zone, forcing Duke to settle for a 36-yard Austin Parker field goal.

Down just two scores after the break, Duke never mounted any sort of comeback, punting four times, turning it over on downs and losing a fumble in a second half in which the Blue Devils converted just one of 10 third-down attempts.

Miami sealed the victory with a 49-yard touchdown pass from Rosier to receiver Ahmmon Richards to take a 24-6 lead with 11 minutes to go, leaving Blue Devil fans filing for the exits. The Hurricanes punctuated the rout with a 40-yard touchdown run from Travis Homer with less than five minutes left.

Duke will look to bounce back next Saturday on the road at Virginia at 12:20 p.m.

“Nothing about this was fun,” Cutcliffe said. “But we’re 4-1 and there’s a lot of things that we have to do better and can. That opportunity still exists. I believe that this football team will fight everybody and anybody it plays.”