Duke Football will take on a non-conference Power 5 team on the road this weekend in a rematch of a loss from last season.
The Blue Devils head into their first road game of the season taking on Big 10 foe Northwestern. The Wildcats are 0-2 to start the season so far but won at Duke in a tightly contested game last season. Here are a few keys to the game for Duke Football:
1. Stopping the Run
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Wake Forest exposed the Duke defense last week with their physical running game. The Demon Deacons compiled 239 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. The Northwestern offense has struggled a lot to start the season, but the Wildcats will be relying heavily on the running game. Junior running back Justin Jackson totaled 124 yards and all three touchdowns in the Wildcats’ opener and will be expected to play a key role in tonight’s game.
2. First Road Game
Duke had a Week 2 ACC game to give them an early test for the season but fell to Wake Forest. The Blue Devils have excelled in road games in the last few seasons and will have another test in their first away game of the 2016 season. Northwestern has struggled to start the season losing both games so far, but Duke will need to be prepared for their first road game on a big stage in a primetime Saturday night matchup against a Big Ten opponent.
3. Versatility on Offense
In the first two games so far this season, the Duke offense has shown flashes of greatness but have not been able to consistently perform. Against NCCU the offense excelled historically in the first half but failed to score in the second. And then only totaled 37 rushing yards against WF after compiling a total of 308 running yards against the Eagles and focusing on improving the run game in the offseason. It will be up to Coach Cutcliffe and first-time offensive coordinator Zac Roper to implement changes in the play-calling for the Blue Devils to keep the Northwestern defense off balance.
Duke and Northwestern will kickoff at 8:00 pm tonight in a non-conference matchup between two Power 5 conference foes. Look for the Blue Devils to come out focused in their first road game of the season to get a win ahead of a huge game next week.