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Monday, May 27, 2024
The Observer

History of the Matchup: Notre Dame vs. Duke

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Irish running back Jafar Armstrong gets tackled during Notre Dame's 38-7 win over Duke on Nov. 9, 2019 at Notre Dame Stadium.


College Gameday just can’t seem to get enough of the Irish. Lee Corso and company follow Notre Dame to Durham, North Carolina, on Saturday to watch the Irish battle the frisky No. 17 Duke Blue Devils led by quarterback Riley Leonard. Since Notre Dame started playing five ACC games per year in 2014, they have faced Duke just three times. 

Notre Dame leads the all-time series 5-2 and enters this game on a two-game win streak against Duke. Before looking ahead to Saturday night’s primetime showdown, let’s check out the past performances between these two teams. 

1958: Notre Dame 9, Duke 7 

Way back in 1958, the year that Arnold Palmer won his first Masters and “Hula Hoops” became a national craze, the Irish and Blue Devils faced off on the gridiron for the first time. Head coach Terry Brennan and the Irish fought off the Blue Devils for a narrow mid-October victory en route to a 6-4 year and No. 17 finish in the AP Poll. Led by head coach Bill Murray, the Blue Devils dropped to 2-3 and eventually finished 5-5 on the season. 

1961: Duke 37, Notre Dame 13 

This game marked the final episode in a mediocre season of Irish football. The Blue Devils triumphantly defeated the Irish and improved to 7-3 on the year. Duke built on its success in 1961 and went 8-2 the following year. However, Notre Dame remained at .500 in 1962 and went on to replace head coach Joe Kuharich with Hugh Devore. Ara Parseghian did not arrive in South Bend until 1964. 

1966: Notre Dame 64, Duke 0 

It’s safe to say that 1966 was a good year to be a Notre Dame fan. Following this contest, the Irish improved to 8-0 on the season while the Blue Devils fell to 4-5. Head Coach Ara Parseighan led his team to a national championship and a 9-0-1 record on the year. Notre Dame also had two players, senior running back Nick Eddy and sophomore quarterback Terry Hanratty, finish third and eighth respectively in Heisman voting in the 1966 season. This game against Duke wasn’t the only shutout on the year for the national champions. In fact, the Irish posted six shutouts on the year, including a 51-0 smackdown of USC. 

2007: Notre Dame 28, Duke 7

 The 2007 game was one of the few wins on the year for the Irish in a dismal season. The Irish improved to 2-9 after the game while Duke fell to 1-10. Notre Dame’s star quarterback Jimmy Clausen went 16-32 with three touchdown passes against the Blue Devils.

Despite the poor previous performances from the two teams in 2007, the Notre Dame faithful still turned out for the game and Notre Dame Stadium reached full attendance.

2016: Duke 38, Notre Dame 35 

The 2016 matchup against Duke went down as another pathetic performance in the dreaded 4-8 season. Junior quarterback DeShone Kizer finished the game 22-37 for 381 yards, two touchdown passes and one interception. The Irish struggled mightily in 2016 despite a roster featuring future pro talents running back Josh Adams, wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, linebacker Drue Tranquill and cornerback Julian Love. The Irish went up seven points with 7:46 left in the fourth quarter off a 12-yard pass from Kizer to St. Brown. However, Daniel Jones quickly led Duke back down the field. The Blue Devils scored in 59 seconds and knotted the game up at 35. On the next drive, Dylan Singleton picked off Kizer at the Notre Dame 45-yard line and Duke proceeded to drain the clock before kicking the go-ahead field goal. 

After the rough 2016 season, the Irish went out and hired Mike Elko as defensive coordinator. Elko now leads the 4-0 Duke squad against the Irish on Saturday night. 

2019: Notre Dame 38, Duke 7 

After narrowly escaping from Virginia Tech the previous week on an Ian Book scamper into the end zone, the Irish made easy work of the Blue Devils in this contest. Book was stellar in this game, carving up the Duke secondary and tossing four touchdown passes. However, what most Irish fans would remember about this game is the re-emergence of Chris Finke, who had been battling injuries all season. Finke caught two touchdowns in the game and the Irish improved to 7-2 on the season. 

2020: Notre Dame 27, Duke 13 

At the start of the COVID-19 year, what stood out was the emergence of lead tailback Kyren Williams. Williams entered his sophomore campaign noticeably faster and ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns in the game. He wasn’t the only future NFL tailback in the game, though. Current Indianapolis Colts running back Deon Jackson rushed for 52 yards on 15 carries for the Blue Devils. Tight end Michael Mayer also launched his Notre Dame career against the Blue Devils and caught three balls for 38 yards in his debut. On the defensive side of the ball, linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and safety Kyle Hamilton stood out as the Irish started their journey to an eventual playoff appearance. 

While Duke hasn’t dominated on the gridiron in the same way they have on the basketball court, Mike Elko will have Riley Leonard and the rest of the team prepared for this top-20 matchup. Marcus Freeman and the Irish must have a short memory to avoid risking elimination from playoff contention.

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