Northwestern Wildcats vs Duke Blue Devils Game Preview, Prediction

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Going all the way back to the Gary Barnett era, the Northwestern Wildcats often lose a September game that they really should not lose, and they sometimes lose that game in a manner not befitting the level of their program.

As Pat Fitzgerald is now 11-2 in season openers, that game comes in week two, three or four, and last season that game was the trip to Duke. The Cats got slaughtered 41-17 in week two last year, and this weekend they’ll be looking to redeem themselves from that 2017 disaster.

“The rearview mirror is the rearview mirror, I think you look at tape and you learn from it,” Fitzgerald said today. “This is the fourth time we’ve played them since coach Cut has been there, so I think we know each other pretty well.”

pat fitzgerald

In reference to a question on Duke receiver T.J. Rahming, Fitzgerald responded: “He’s a hell of a football player. We played like garbage and they played great. Anybody have any questions about this year’s football team? I would love to answer, please, I’m ready- fire away. ”

SPREAD: Northwestern Wildcats -3, Over/Under (48.5)

TV: ESPNU 11 am Saturday

Northwestern Wildcats Preview:

After pulling off an upset in a game they had no business being underdogs in last week, NU received 28 votes in the AP poll and are ranked as the 30th best team in the country, according to that poll. NU emerged victorious 31-27 at Purdue, and the top topic was the rotating quarterbacks strategy Fitzgerald and his staff employed.

purdue boilermaker train track

QB1 Clayton Thorson and QB2 T.J. Green alternated series, and it’s likely we’ll see this approach again on Saturday. Fitz refused to tip his hand when asked about this topic today.

Maybe the true main story line from Thursday tonight was Jeremy Larkin; NU’s new starter at the tailback position.

Taking over for the all time leading rusher in school history, Justin Jackson, Larkin had some very big shoes to fill. He responded by assuming the workhorse role that Northwestern required, rushing 26 times for 143 yards and two touchdowns with a long of 46.

His 5.5 yards per carry average was just about in line with the six per rush that he averaged last season. Go here for more on him, and on his performance in week one.

Duke Blue Devils Preview:

Duke solidly beat Army 34-14 in what was a week one Mike Krzyzewski Bowl (sort of). The Blue Devils were able to run all over and around the Cats last season, and if this game is going to be markedly different, the match-up to watch is the Wildcats’ front seven versus Duke’s dual threat, NFL Draft stock having quarterback Daniel Jones.  

“Yeah that loss is in the back of our minds, but does that change how we prepare everyday for this one? no,” said NU defensive tackle Jordan Thompson.

duke football

“I see a big strong guy, good quarterback,” said Thompson of Jones. 

Added Wildcats linebacker Blake Gallagher: “He’s a big physical guy, and he’s not afraid to take a hit, he doesn’t really slide, not afraid to take a hit.”

The Dukies started fast last season, got hit by injuries, at very key positions, and floundered in the middle of the season. However, they did recover towards the end, qualified for a bowl and extended NIU’s bowl victory drought by blowing out the Huskies in Detroit on Boxing Day.

Street & Smith’s projects Duke to a 5th place finish in the ACC Coastal division and a Texas Bowl berth. Athlon ranks then the 65th best team in the country and Jones the 33rd best signal caller in the nation.

duke football

Prediction: Northwestern Wildcats 24, Duke Blue Devils 17

NU kicks off the best home schedule in the nation/in their school history right here right now. They’ll extend their winning streak, the best in the nation among power five conference teams, to 10.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, is currently a regular contributor to SB Nation, WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.

Follow him on Twitter, Instagram, Sound Cloud and YouTube. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to any and all of his.

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