In a historic victory for coach Mike Elko’s Blue Devils, Duke outclassed No. 9 Clemson 28-7 in shocking way.
For the first time since 2004, the two-touchdown underdogs easily defeated the Tigers. They also became the first team to triumph over a team ranked in the AP top 10 since the famous coach Steve Spurrier’s team defeated No. 7 Clemson in 1989.
Even though Clemson arrived in Durham, North Carolina, with a brand-new offense led by quarterback Cade Klubnik and first-year coach Garrett Riley, the Tigers were unable to overcome their own obstacles.
A blocked 23-yard field goal attempt and two fumbles that occurred just outside the goal line, the second of which resulted in a fourth-quarter Blue Devils touchdown six plays later, were among the costly red zone errors.
Riley Leonard, the quarterback for Duke, had a standout performance, and as a result, the Blue Devils outperformed Clemson offensively. Midway through the third quarter, the junior delivered the game’s high point with a powerful 44-yard touchdown run, giving the Blue Devils a 13-7 lead and setting the tone for the rest of the game.
Together with his touchdown run, Leonard finished the game with 273 yards of total offense.
How Duke Outmatched Clemson
Clemson had opportunities to take the lead back, but did it numerous times by shooting themselves in the foot. The Tigers had eight of their 13 possessions in Duke territory, and they didn’t punt once in the second half, but they only managed one touchdown off a short field.
Klubnik finished with 209 yards passing at less than 5 yards per attempt and an interception despite being restricted to short passes for the bulk of the game. In the first half, he completed a short ball out of the backfield to Will Shipley for his only touchdown of the game.
Although Duke had closed as 13-point underdogs before the game, this wasn’t exactly an upset. Why? Clemson was completely outclassed by Duke in every way. Leonard dominated the game right away and was by far the superior quarterback.
Few quarterbacks would have displayed the composure he exhibited in the presence of one of college football’s top defensive fronts. Even on the rare instances when he felt pressure, Riley never panicked.
When Duke controlled the ball, the struggle in the trenches was a contest of strength vs strength, and the Blue Devils’ offensive line had no trouble handling the Tigers. The night’s running backs averaged 5.3 yards per carry, and Riley was not sacked once.
The normally fearsome Tigers defense was defeated by a conference foe for the first time in a long time. More significantly, Duke’s team speed was on level with, if not superior to, that of the Tigers.
Source: CBS Sports