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Duke Looks the Part Early

By BJ Bennett
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Clearly, the Blue Devils are developing some traction.

If you aren't already aware, Duke deserves your attention. Two games into the 2017 season, the Blue Devils have won their pair of games by a combined score of 101-24 and have outgained their foes by a total of 1,062 yards to 349. Duke's showing on Saturday, beating Northwestern 41-17, was one of the program's most dominating efforts in years. Against a good team, the Blue Devils had a great performance.

Duke overwhelmed the Wildcats in Durham, compiling 34 first downs compared to 15, 233 rushing yards to 22 and holding the football for over 41 minutes. Quarterback Daniel Jones had a 300-yard, 100-yard showcase, receiver T.J. Rahming caught 12 passes for 127 yards and and cornerback Mark Gilbert recorded two interceptions. The Blue Devils, versus Northwestern, played with a remarkable balance.  

“That is so much fun to watch. Our players, we obviously made them very aware that’s how you win football games and that’s how teams win football games. I love the fact that they’re so bought in, they are a team," David Cutcliffe explained. "It’s not an offense, it’s not a defense, it’s not a certain phase of the kicking game. They really have bought into that fact and it’s fun to see a team go out and win a football game."

There is a different energy to Duke. After losing five of six to finish last season, these Blue Devils have looked the part of a contender. Duke will next hope to move to 3-0 for the first time since 2014 with a home contest with Baylor, then will play both their first conference and road game of the year at rival North Carolina. Clearly, the Blue Devils are developing some traction.

Jones, a former walk-on, has been a key catalyst. In his last nine games, Jones has thrown for 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions, adding seven rushing scores. He and Rahming have developed a great chemistry as the the dynamic wide receiver has reached the 100-yard mark in four of his last five outings. Duke, at this point, has the ACC's most prolific scoring attack.

Defensively, the Blue Devils are playing at a different level. In two games, Duke has allowed just 86 rushing yards and has compiled seven sacks. The unit forced either a punt or a turnover on nine-of-ten Northwestern possessions during Saturday's meeting. To date, the Blue Devils have allowed three touchdowns; one came on an 81-yard run by North Carolina Central, another on the Wildcats' inconsequential final drive. 
Early on this season, Duke has made quite the impression. Time will tell if the Blue Devils can make a run at the ACC Championship Game; already, they have earned their way into the conversation.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports