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NC State vs Duke in 1-2-3

What I’m thinking about with this game

NC State vs. Duke Ethan Hyman/Raleigh News & Observer/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

One Thing I’m Worried About

  1. Duke’s defense is good. Like really good. Like really f’n good. In four games against FBS opponents this year, the Blue Devils are giving up 12.25 points/game. That includes allowing just 7 points to Clemson and 21 to Notre Dame. They don’t allow a lot of explosive plays, and despite last week’s output against Marshall, creating explosive plays hasn’t been the strength of the Wolfpack offense this year.

Two Things I’m Confident In

  1. As good as Duke’s defense is, they’re not the greatest against the run. The Blue Devil defense ranks 122nd in Power Success Rate, 84th in Rushing Success Rate, and 106th in Rushing Explosiveness (all numbers excluding garbage time stats). If the Wolfpack can get the ground game going, there are opportunities to find continued success and control the game.
  2. Duke’s defense has thrived by keeping opponents out of the end zone once they get into Duke territory. They rank 10th in opponent Points Per Scoring Opportunity (that is, when the opponent gets inside the 40 yardline), averaging 2.5 points per opportunity. That’s 1.1 points lower than the national average. A fair chunk of that is skill and execution, but for anyone who has watched Duke enough, you know that other teams have just not capitalized on their chances. Clemson alone fumbled twice inside the Duke 10 and missed a field goal from the Duke 12. Take care of the ball and points are there for the taking.

Three Stats You Should Know

  1. The current ranking of 17th in the AP poll is the highest for the Blue Devils since the 1994 season when they reached a ranking of 16th after a 7-0 start in Fred Goldsmith’s first season in Durham. That Duke team finished 8-4.
  2. Duke was outgained in total yards by both Clemson (422 to 374) and Notre Dame (381 to 323).
  3. The passing defense for Duke is stout, ranking 5th in Passing Explosiveness and 13th in Passing Success Rate.