Irish Romp Over Duke

Notre Dame jumped out to a fast 14-0 lead and coasted to a 38-7 victory over the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday night. Ian Book passed for 182 yards and four touchdowns as the Irish were never seriously threatened. The defense dominated the line of scrimmage and held the anemic Duke attack to just 197 yards. The road win lifted Notre Dame to 7-2 on the season with three games remaining.

Book was told by the coaches to “Let it rip” before the game, and he responded with a confident and decisive first half performance. He threw the ball with conviction and velocity, completing 18 of 32 passes on the night and running the ball for substantial gains when the defense dropped into coverage. Chase Claypool was once again the receiving star for the Irish with several acrobatic catches. Chris Finke also had a season-best performance. The senior recorded two touchdown receptions and returned a punt 46 yards to set up Book’s final touchdown pass to reserve tight end George Takacs.

The Irish ran for 272 yards on 41 carries with Book accounting for 139 of them. This included a 45-yard romp to set up Notre Dame’s third touchdown of the night, and a 53-yarder to set up a fourth quarter field goal by Jonathan Doerer. Both long runs by Book came on designed quarterback draws.

The Devils made an effort to get back into the contest before halftime with a score at the 2:55 mark, and followed it with an interception by Shaka Heyward near midfield. As time ran down, poor clock management forced the hosts to settle for a 44-yard field goal attempt, but J.R. Reed recorded his first miss of the season to end the half.

Pride’s interception ended Duke’s chances

Duke had another chance to tighten things up early in the third period while trailing by 21-7, but Troy Pride picked off a Quentin Harris pass to end the threat. Book immediately hit Claypool on two long tosses before Finke caught a six-yard pass for what was essentially the game-clinching score. Harris, who was pressured all evening, finished with 16 completions in 28 attempts for a mere 102 yards before being relieved in the fourth period.

Let’s review the answers to our pregame questions:

Can Notre Dame run the ball effectively without a fully healthy Tony Jones? Yes. Although Book outrushed the Irish tailbacks, Jahmir Smith contributed a 40 yard run and C’Bo Flemister scored a touchdown.

Will the Irish defense be able to apply consistent pressure on Harris? Yes, they dominated the porous Duke offensive line.

Which special teams and kicker will influence the outcome? The Irish finally showed some spark in the second half after Brian Kelly was caught on camera screaming at ST Coach Brian Polian after Duke ran a successful fake punt. Finke’s long return and Doerer’s field goal came after that tirade. Jay Bramblett shanked a punt in the first half that led to Duke’s only touchdown.

Can Notre Dame score on its opening drive? It was another three and out, but the next two possessions hit paydirt.

Will either offense execute big plays over 40+ yards? Yes, and all three such plays from scrimmage came on running plays. Finke’s punt return made it four, and his 78-yard reception that was called back on a phantom holding call would have been the fifth.

Can the Irish reverse their history of poor road performances at night? They seemed mentally sharper and more determined tonight, and they also seemed to be having fun for a change. The soft opponent didn’t hurt, either.

Which team will commit crucial turnovers? Although Book had a couple of second half interceptions, they were not damaging. Duke also suffered two turnovers, and the interception by Pride took all the wind out of their sails.

Will fans who don’t have the ACC Network find something better to do on Saturday night? Geez, I hope so. The Duke fans in the stands were smart enough to disappear early.

The Irish fan base can now look forward with anticipation and optimism rather than dread to the final three games of the regular season. If the team can match its level of play tonight with consistent efforts against Navy, Boston College and Stanford, a 10-2 finish should not be problem.

Tell John what you think in the comments below

26 thoughts on “Irish Romp Over Duke

  1. Well at some point the running backs need to outgain the QB, but I guess I can’t complain too much since they won 38-7 on the road. A serviceable running game can’t just rely on QB draws and taking off when the pocket collapses. Duke was averaging almost 39 points at home so great job by the defense.

  2. While Book let it rip last night, I was not a fan of how much running he did. He will eventually get hurt as good teams will key in on that quick. Duke is horrible this year and we still could not establish a true running game. Our o-line is depleted due to injuries, but our RB’s looked awful. No vision and they go down to easy. After watching LSU and BAMA and the running backs they have ND is no where close to being on the same level. I still do not understand Chip Long’s play calling, very frustrating to watch. He either calls all passing plays or all running plays each series, no creativity. If Book was not on his game last night this could have been another loss to a lesser team. Chip has to go and take Polian with him. Special teams had 2 bright plays the whole night but punting and kick off coverage is terrible.

    • Ask Va Tech how awful they think Duke is.

      Brian what exactly would you have preferred? C’Bo having a 100+yard night? Linemen miraculously healed on the sidelines with a relic of Saint Knute? 40 runs and 40 passes, all of them for first downs? Get a grip. Enjoy the win if that’s possible but I honestly don’t think you can. I feel sorry for fans like you who, when presented with a blowout road win by a team who desperately needed a confidence boost, can’t even enjoy or acknowledge it.

      • When you read between the lines it is easy to see we have some serious issues with the running game. I have been a die hard fan since the Ara Parseghian days so don’t give me that crap about feeling sorry for fans like me. I will always be an IRISH fan you jerk! I also see when this team is missing in key areas and the run game and special teams are 2 of those areas. As I said, if Book was not on his game then we possibly loose that game as no one else could run the ball. It amazes me how the top teams can loose players to injuries and still not miss a beat. We need to get to the level! I believe our defense is there but offensively we are not yet.

  3. For you who have a large screen monitor or you computer, you can go to ESPN, click on the right side of the ND/Duke game cast and a popup on the right side of the screen will ask you if you want to watch the game live. Pop on it and it will display all of the services that are screening it. Pick you internet provider, such as Cox Cable and the game will pop up live and you can watch it live. I couldn’t find the ACCN, so I was happy to find this.

    Go Irish, great game on both sides of the ball.

  4. Excellent performance by the team last night. While I am certainly no Book fan, you have to give credit when its due, and he had his best game of the season last night. Totally agree with your comment about the phantom holding call which reversed a huge play and a likely TD. I guess a pancake block is now considered holding by the ACC officials.

    My only concern from the game is the condition of Julian Okwara, who left with some kind of a leg injury. Any update on his condition?

  5. Great overall win for the Irish!! It was nice to see the offense, defense, and special teams all contributed to the win. Furthermore, Ian Book’s confidence level is increasing by his quality performances of the last 2 games!! Go ND beat Navy!!!!!

  6. Good to see resilience in this team on the road after taking a couple punches from Dook and ACC refs mid game. Kelly certainly had his “Irish” up on the sidelines several times. Encouraging win. Now if Book can maintain his “rip it” approach vs Navy we should have no problem the rest of the way

  7. Thanks Mr. Vannie. I predicted a blowout-shoulda put it on the board so people would believe me. Happy for Book, happy for Finke, happy for D. Let’s win out and get into a decent Bowl. Hope the O and D lines can get past Navy without any new injuries. Go Irish.

  8. Strongest game all year for the Irish…solid in all phases…hopefully it will continue for the last 4 games of 2019..
    Please no more “bad days” this year…
    GO Irish!

  9. A nice victory for the Irish, but Duke was a pretty weak foe. Defense was solid. ND, minus Book runs, did not seem to be able to run up the middle and Armstrong did not show much (goes down easy). As I said, this is a decent team but nowhere near elite.

  10. While this is a nice win let’s also not forget that beating an inferior team like Duke, who’ve lost their last 3 of 4 games, by a score of 38-7 is fool’s gold. Once ND faces another ranked team with a respectable offense and defense the same problems we saw at Michigan will probably resurface and we’ll be wishing for Kelly’s speedy departure from South Bend.


  11. Hi Van Man,

    This is Snyds. Moved to NH 35 years ago and raised our family. R U going to reunion? Love to catch up


    • Hey Bob, I’ve been in California for the last 40 years. Now in San Diego. Gary lives nearby now and I’m going to his place to watch the BC game. Finally reconnected with him and the Kansas City crew last year. Went to the playoff game with Frank O. and Bob J. It was a great time until the beat down started. Pat R. couldn’t make it but I had seen him a few times earlier and chat with him regularly. Lost track of Chad a few years ago, I’m sorry to say. I don’t normally make the reunions but will have to think about it next time. I think I’m still a wanted man by campus police for our skinny dipping episode in the Library pool the night before graduation. John

      • A memorable night indeed. Saw Chad at the Texas game a couple of years back and went to napa to visit. He moved back after retirement. Let’s all go to reunion or a game. It Wouk be a gas.

        • I went to that Texas game (UGH) and will be in Napa next March. Will have to track down that miscreant. I’ll give the reunion some thought. I am going to the Wisconsin game at Lambeau Field in October. Give my best to Kathy.

  12. Glad I was right that this game wouldn’t be as close as most predicted. Nice effort by the D-Line. Nice game by Book who definitely looked at ease. I would’ve loved to see Phil get some more reps but happy that would buried an inferior opponent. The injury to Okwara will hurt moving forward especially against a real passing team in the bowl game.

    Get some rest boys- Navy is a real team this year playing for a shot at a NY6 game. Go Irish!

  13. Martin De Rita says:

    How badly Julian Okwara was hurt is of vital importance. If he is out for the rest of the season, that will not bode well.