David Cutcliffe is long past the point in his career when he cares about moral victories.
But if Notre Dame really is one of the nation’s 10 best teams, then Duke has a chance to be pretty good this season.
Duke took it to the Irish from the onset, putting 124 yards of total offense on the board in its first two possessions. But Duke could only get three points out of those drives, setting the stage for a series of big plays that doomed Duke to a 27-13 defeat.
It was the kind of game when Duke forced a punt only to give up 14 yards and a first down on a fake punt, the kind of game where Duke completed a 12-yard pass down field only to loss the ball on a fumble, the kind of game where a wet ball popped out of Chase Brice’s hands for a lost fumble, the kind of game where a Duke interception was nullified on an off-sides penalty, setting up an end-of-the-first half field goal that gave the Irish a 10-6 intermission lead in a game that Duke had dominated for the most part.
And yes, the kind of game when Notre Dame simply did what they had to do.
“The story of the day was they made more plays than we did,” Cutcliffe summed up.
Earlier in the week Cutcliffe critiqued his team’s effort in last year’s 38-7 blowout loss to Notre Dame. Cutcliffe said that Duke came out lacking aggression and got knocked back on its heels and never really got into the game.
“I don’t think there’s any question our guys were ready to play,” Cutcliffe said following the rematch. ”This is a pretty fierce group, a confident group.”
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