Northwestern running back Warren Long jumps as he runs with the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Eastern Illinois, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in Evanston, Ill. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
Nam Y. Huh
September 15, 2015

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Duke is letting its play on the field do the talking against No. 23 Northwestern - preferably in the end zone.

The Wildcats (2-0) have yet to allow a touchdown. After they shut out an FCS team, one of their players said he expects to do it again this week.

After last week's 41-0 rout of Eastern Illinois, Wildcats defensive lineman Ifeadi Odenigbo told the Chicago Tribune, ''We expect to have a shutout next week.''

Duke (2-0) has averaged 46 points in routs of two outmanned teams, and ranks ninth nationally with 592 total yards per game.

Tight end Braxton Deaver said Tuesday that the Blue Devils ''don't listen to stuff like that'' but added, ''We're going to execute and we're going to put points on the board.''

The Blue Devils were already aware of the comments made by Odenigbo but took the high road in responding to them, though did elicit a few tweets in response from Duke running back Shaun Wilson.

He called Odenigbo's strong words ''a gamble'' and advised him to ''mean what you say and say what you mean.''

Coach David Cutcliffe defused the possibility of a trash-talk battle, saying this is a case of ''two guys that are proud of their programs.''

Deaver said ''if I played defense for the other team, I'd probably say the same thing.

''I'm not going to walk up to (Odenigbo) and say, `Hey, what are you talking about?''' Deaver added. ''It's one of those things where we're going to line up, we're going to see the plays called, we're going to execute and we're going to get in the end zone.''

Quarterback Thomas Sirk, who ranks sixth nationally with 379 total yards per game, is coming off a four-touchdown game - three passing, one rushing - against N.C. Central. He said the Blue Devils aren't focusing on what the Wildcats say - but how they play.

Northwestern has the nation's third-best total defense, allowing 189 total yards per game. The Wildcats rank fourth nationally in scoring defense, allowing only a pair of field goals in a 16-6 win over then-No. 21 Stanford in the opener, then followed that with their rout of Eastern Illinois.

It's the first time Northwestern held consecutive opponents without a touchdown since 1958, and marked the Wildcats' first shutout since beating Northeastern in 2007.

Cutcliffe said he included Northwestern on his ballot in the coaches' poll because ''they have earned their opportunity to be ranked.''

For the Blue Devils, a victory might be enough to put them back in the Top 25. They cracked the rankings in each of the past two seasons.

''It's one of those things where, they execute really well, we execute really well,'' Deaver said. ''Which playmakers are going to step up and make the plays? That's going to be the difference.''


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