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Next Up For Duke Football - #7 Louisville

It’s going to be a tough game, but those are the games football players live for.

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NCAA Football: Louisville at Marshall
Lamar Jackson is going to be a load for Duke’s defense.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Say what you want about Louisville’s Bobby Petrino and people have said plenty, mostly in one way another questioning his loyalties, but he has put together an absolute offensive juggernaut this season.

So far #7 Louisville has scored 70, 62, 63, 59 and 36.

Only Clemson managed to remotely contain this offense, winning 42-36.

It’s going to be a very challenging evening for Duke.

So was Notre Dame at Notre Dame, a program win for the Blue Devils that counts for a lot. Duke won at Notre Dame? Seriously?

Week by week we see Notre Dame is having a tough year. So yes, it’s counts and for a lot, but Notre Dame is not Louisville.

Isn’t that a strange thing to say? In football?

There’s an odd bit of history to this game - we wonder how many remember.

Duke pulled out of a series with Louisville before the Cardinals joined the ACC and was sued. The defense?

Duke argued that since it was then the worst football team in the country that any team Louisville could get was of “similar stature.”

Isn’t that an audacious though pathetic argument? (the court ruled that Louisville had plenty of time to find a replacement).

It’s not like that now.

Louisville is clearly favored but you certainly can’t rule Duke out the way you used to. You have to consider the possibility of an upset. The progress of the program requires that, as Notre Dame learned.

Louisville has the nation’s best offensive weapon in quarterback Lamar Jackson, who has been spectacular so far.

Jackson is averaging 7.48 yards per carry and 9.56 yards per pass completion and Louisville is racking up a fairly astounding 659.2 yards per game.

Randall Cunningham and Michael Vick, both of whom pioneered the sort of explosive quarterbacking that Jackson is doing, are duly impressed. Cunningham praises Jackson’s instincts. Vick says that Jackson is “five times better” than he was.

He’s a load.

Jackson had eight touchdowns against Charlotte and five in the first half against Syracuse.

Duke has as pretty good quarterback too, but Daniel Jones is a freshman and as promising as he is, he’s had some growing pains as has his line. The big hit that Virginia’s Jordan Mack put on Jones? No one touched him on the way in. He came in like a freight train and Jones, who didn’t see him, took a serious blow.

Jackson isn’t the only weapon Louisville has though. Running back Brandon Radcliffe is racking up 8.4 yards per carry.

Duke will counter with a health(ier) Jela Duncan.

Louisville has had a week off to digest the loss to Clemson which won’t make Duke’s life any easier.

For Duke to have a shot at an upset, turnovers have to stop. David Cutcliffe has a young team this year and in recent seasons, Duke did a great job of taking care of the ball.

Against Virginia though, Jones had six turnovers and had that nasty hit on the last one.

If Louisville wins, as expected, this game could help Duke in the way that Alabama did a few years ago.

The mighty Tide came to Wallace Wade and beat Duke thoroughly. At the time it was ugly but Cutcliffe showed his team what a powerful, well-coached football team was capable of.

We’ve seen the lessons since in bowl games.

What we really admire about Duke under Cutcliffe is the immense competitive spirit. This is a team that keeps coming.

Jackson is going to be very hard to contain, but if Duke can manage to keep him in the pocket they'll have a better chance. He’s particularly dangerous when he scrambles.