Two years after winning the New Era Pinstripe Bowl in New York for its first bowl win since 1961, the Blue Devils are heading north again in its return to the postseason.
Duke will face Northern Illinois in the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit Dec. 26 at 5:15 p.m. at Ford Field, the indoor home of the Detroit Lions. College football insider Brett McMurphy first reported that the Huskies will be the Blue Devils' opponent. It will be Duke's fifth bowl appearance in the last six years after a one-year absence last year and its first game in the state of Michigan since 1978.
In their first four bowl appearances under head coach David Cutcliffe, the Blue Devils are 1-3, with losses in the 2012 Belk Bowl, the 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl and the 2014 Hyundai Sun Bowl before beating Indiana in New York in 2015.
Duke lost six straight games this fall after a 4-0 start, but recovered to beat Georgia Tech and Wake Forest in its last two games to reach bowl eligibility. The Blue Devils' defense was strong all season, holding 10 of its 12 opponents to fewer than 25 points. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Joe Giles-Harris and sophomore cornerback Mark Gilbert both earned first-team All-ACC recognition last week.
"We are honored and delighted to be chosen to participate in the Quick Lane Bowl," Cutcliffe said in a press release. “I could not be happier for a group of young men who had their backs against the wall heading into the final two weeks of the season, fought through that adversity and now will reap the benefits of their hard work and commitment to this program."
Offensively, Duke went through a lengthy quiet stretch during its losing streak before coming alive at the end of the season, scoring on its first seven drives of the 43-20 victory against the Yellow Jackets. The Blue Devils then scored touchdowns on three straight second-half drives a week later against the Demon Deacons with their postseason hopes on the line. Running backs Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown and quarterback Daniel Jones combined for more than 1,800 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground, though Jones was inconsistent in the passing game.
Northern Illinois upset Nebraska on the road early in the season and finished 8-4, with a 6-2 record in MAC action. Led by quarterback Marcu Childers, the Huskies average more than 30 points per game. The Blue Devils have never played Northern Illinois.
The Quick Lane Bowl is one of the newest bowl games and has only been played since 2014, typically pitting an ACC team against a Big Ten team. The bowl has a payout of $1.2 million.