No. 11 Notre Dame has to put last week's devastating, last-second loss to Ohio State in the rearview mirror. Up next for the Fighting Irish is a road trip to take ob undefeated No. 17 Duke. The Blue Devils have already knocked off Clemson, but a win over the Irish would rank equally among the biggest in program history.
The last time a nationally-ranked Duke team hosted a top-25 opponent was 1994, and the last time the Blue Devils hosted a top-20 matchup was 1960. Every one of Duke's four wins this season have been by 20 points or more, starting with a Labor Day upset of reigning ACC champion Clemson and continuing victories against FCS Lafayette, Northwestern and UConn. Mike Elko, last season's ACC Coach of the Year, is 13-4 since taking over in Durham, North Carolina. He has the 2023 Blue Devils well-positioned to challenge a Notre Dame program that holds a 5-2 edge in the all-time series.
Notre Dame, of course, has its own sense of urgency one week after Ohio State punched in a 1-yard touchdown with a second remaining to beat the Fighting Irish in South Bend, Indiana. After nearly four quarters of defensive excellence, Notre Dame was left with just 10 men on the field for the game-deciding play and has spent the week working to shake off the frustrations of defeat. Marcus Freeman and his staff have discussed making changes to their process, but also making sure that last season's shortcomings don't repeat themselves like when an Ohio State hangover bled over into a home loss to Marshall.
How to watch Notre Dame vs. Duke live
Date: Saturday, Sept. 30 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Wallace Wade Stadium -- Durham, North Carolina
TV: ABC | Live stream: fubo (Try for free)
Notre Dame vs. Duke: Need to know
Top-tier quarterback matchup: Both teams are averaging more than 35 points per game in part because of the high-level play they are getting out of their quarterbacks. Notre Dame got Sam Hartman out of the transfer portal this offseason, and the ACC record holder for career passing touchdowns has maintained his standard since the move from Wake Forest. Hartman has thrown 14 touchdowns with zero interceptions, ranking second only to USC's Caleb Williams in touchdown-interception ratio and becoming the first Notre Dame quarterback to throw 14 touchdown passes in the first five games of a season. On the other side Duke has an emerging star in Riley Leonard, who is in his second year as a starter after earning honorable mention All-ACC honors last season and has been an all-purpose threat so far in 2023. Leonard's 238 rushing yards through four games are third among ACC quarterbacks and, with four rushing touchdowns on the season, he's already second all-time in Duke history for rushing scores by a quarterback.
Notre Dame's dominance against ACC opponents: The Fighting Irish have won 29 straight regular-season games against ACC opponents, a streak that extends back to 2017. In fact ever since entering a scheduling agreement with the ACC in 2014, Notre Dame has overwhelmed much of the conference going 41-7 against ACC opponents with a 33-1 record since the start of the 2017 season. That includes a 9-0 record in 2020 when Notre Dame played an ACC schedule with much of college football playing only conference games due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Plenty of defensive resistance: While the quarterbacks in this matchup are deserving of some headlines, it would not be a surprise to see them struggle against two of the nation's top-performing defenses. Duke currently is tied for fourth nationally allowing just 8.8 points per game and fifth in the FBS allowing just 4.11 yards per play. Meanwhile Notre Dame is 15th nationally in scoring defense allowing 12.8 points per game and sixth in the country allowing just 4.20 yards per play. Both groups are veteran-led units that play sound and do not allow explosive plays, making opponents struggle for every yard and point.
Notre Dame vs. Duke prediction, picks
I lean toward Notre Dame to win given the way these ACC matchups tend to go, especially noting that the Fighting Irish are just as strong in the trenches as they have been throughout their current 29-game winning streak vs. ACC opponents. But the spread is a little too large for a game that I think is going to be low scoring, which is why I favor the total. Pick: Under 54
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