Once Notre Dame figured it out, there was no stopping the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame won the toss, and unlike most teams, elected to receive. They went three and out on their first drive, but whatever adjustments that were made worked. The Irish would score on the next two consecutive drives, and three of the next five, on their way to a 38-7 win over Duke.
A 21-0 cushion in the second quarter gave the Irish plenty of room for error, not that they made too many of those. Add that to the Blue Devils’ inability to produce offense for most of the first half and it was no wonder why the fans who were filled with excitement when the game started ditched the cold midway through the third and headed to the exits.
Duke didn’t give them a lot of reasons to stick around. The Blue Devils (4-5) picked up 10 yards on their first play from scrimmage, then ran 16 straight plays before picking up another first down. By that time they were down 21-0 and didn’t get on the board until their seventh drive of the first half.
Quentin Harris hit Aaron Young for a 29-yard score, cutting the deficit to 14 at the break. Duke missed a 44-yard field goal as time expired in the first half and the Irish took advantage of a Harris interception early in the third to take a commanding 21-point lead.
After Troy Pride picked off Harris, Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book hit Chris Finke for a 6-yard score, putting the Irish ahead 28-7 with 3:28 remaining in the third quarter. It was the second touchdown connection between Book and Finke. That duo connected for an 18-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Book had two touchdown passes in the first half, also throwing one to Chase Claypool, putting the Irish up 14-0. C’Bo Flemister rushed for a 2-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter for Notre Dame.
Book, who came into the game with 251 yards rushing, did plenty of damage with his legs against Duke. He eclipsed his season high of rushing yards in a game (81) in the first half and even had a 45-yard run in the first half. He outdid himself, picking up 53 yards on his first carry of the fourth quarter. While Book and the Irish offense heated up as the game went along, the Blue Devils were ice cold, matching the frigid temperatures in Durham.
Duke punted on six consecutive drives to start the game. After their first score, the Blue Devils next five possessions ended in a missed field goal, an interception, two more punts and and a turnover on downs.
Book finished with 181 yards passing and four scores, with 139 yards rushing.
Duke’s MVP in the game had to be punter Austin Parker. The redshirt senior averaged 49.5 yards per kick and pinned Notre Dame inside the 20 three times. On a day when the Blue Devils didn’t do much to slow down the Irish, Parker was at least one bright spot.
Duke forced at least one turnover for the third straight game. The Blue Devils picked off Book twice.
Twice in the first half Duke faced a third and two and couldn’t convert. The first time the Blue Devils had a rush for no gain and the second only gained one yard. Duke actually had three plays in the first half in which it needed a yard to convert and couldn’t get it done.
Duke was held scoreless in the first quarter for the fourth time this season. The Blue Devils are 1-3 when they don’t score in the first quarter.
139 The number of rushing yards by Book, a career high. Book averaged 11.6 yards per carry.
10 The number of first downs by Duke. Their previous season low was 11 against Alabama in the opener.
3.23 Average of yards per play for the Blue Devils.