Duke heads to Winston-Salem to play Wake Forest in a prime time tilt at BB&T Field.
It will be senior day in Winston-Salem, so the Blue Devils will expect an emotional Wake Forest team when things kick off. Wake is 7-3 and looking to snap a two-game losing streak and get into position for a high-profile bowl.
Duke, meanwhile, has a simple task: Win out. The Blue Devils have lost four straight and now need to win their final two games to become bowl eligible.
There is a slight possibility that Duke would qualify for a bowl if the Blue Devils finish with five wins, which we outlined earlier this week. Since then, three teams have been eliminated--Colorado State, West Virginia and Ball State--leaving 33 teams that can pass Duke, with 11 spots available.
Duke will need to contend with Wake's run-pass option, which has confounded opponents all year. The Blue Devils have struggled defending RPOs, including getting beaten for several long runs on the play by Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book two weeks ago.
Conditions will be miserable for the game. It's been raining steadily all day and, an hour before kickoff, is coming down heavily. It's currently 44 degrees, but temperatures are actually supposed to creep up toward 50 as the game goes on.
Wake hammered Duke on the Blue Devils' senior day last year, winning 59-7 at Wallace Wade. Duke players said they circled today's game on the schedule and will be looking for payback.
Scouts have apparently seen enough of both teams. The Giants are the only pro team with a seat in the press box--No bowls are present.
Fashion update: Duke is going with white jerseys, pants and shoes, blue helmets with the script "Duke." Wake is all black.
3:30 games are ending. Kentucky and Charlotte have both won their sixth games of the season, becoming bowl eligible, shrinking the pool of potential five-win teams they'll need to fill out the bowl schedule. There will now be a maximum of nine five-win teams needed. Duke is No. 1 on the APR list, should there not be enough six-win teams.
Cal wins to get eligible. Duke's safety net shrinks to eight possible vacancies.
Duke WR Scott Bracey is reportedly out for the game with an undisclosed injury.
Rain seems to have picked up as we move closer to kickoff. Stands are virtually empty. End zone bleachers are literally empty. I count six people on the grassy berm behind the other end zone.
Slow and leisurely jogs onto the field for both teams. I think the playing surface is a little slick.
Duke calls tails. It's heads. Wake defers. Duke will get the ball and head toward the closed end of the stadium.
Casey Holman, who was carted off the field after a long injury delay last week, gets the start at left tackle.
Start couldn't be much worse for Duke. Pass out of bounds, stuffed on run play, seven-yard pass on third and 10 leads to a three-and-out. Now on defense, Duke seems baffled by the RPO. Wake getting to the edge all alone for some long gains.
A spark for the Blue Devils: Duke gets pressure on the QB on fourth and seven and forces an incompletion. Duke ball at the 30.
For a change of pace, Duke threw short of the sticks on third down. Noah Gray just short, slow to get up. Now walking off under his own power.
Duke decides to go for it fourth and short at its own 39. Bad snap loses 13 yards. Wake ball just outside the red zone.
This is fun. After starting at the Duke 26, Wake is now going to punt.
Duke punts. I suspect we may see a team punt on third down like they used to do in the 40s.
Duke missing some tackles on this Wake drive. Trying to knock the ballcarrier down with a big hit instead of wrapping up.
Duke gets a third down stop on the 20. Wake Forest brings out the kicking unit for a 38 yarder. High snap, but he kicks it through. 3-0 Deacs, 35 seconds left in the first.
Damond Philyaw-Johnson untouched, 97 yards on the kickoff return to give Duke a 7-3 lead.
That's the 11th longest return in school history and longest since Shaun Wilson went 98 in the 2015 Pinstripe Bowl. First return TD since Wilson went 96 against the Irish the following year.
That's Duke's first lead in a game since the third quarter against UNC, on Oct. 26. UNC tied the game with 3:59 left in the quarter. That was 153:35 ago in football time.
Duke finishes the first quarter with one fewer rushing yard than me. Also has 12 passing yards.
Mataeo Durant carries for positive yards! That's the good news. Yep. He fumbled it. Wake ball at the 35.
Harris to Calhoun up the sideline for 33 yards. Duke set up in the red zone.
Three downs later, we haven't moved. AJ Reed kicks a 30-yarder to put Duke up 10-3.
Wake quarterback channels his inner Ian Book and runs around end for a 42-yard touchdown. Duke missed a tackle at the line. We're tied up at 10.
Sciba connects from 34 to give Wake a 13-10 lead, 2:35 left in the half.
And that's the score at the half.
Some numbers: Duke is 0-for-6 on third down conversions, 0-for-1 on fourth. Duke has gained four or more yards on 11 of 24 snaps (46%). BUT four of those 11 4+ yard plays were third down plays that were short of the sticks. Another two were Durant runs in the last seconds of the half when Duke was killing the clock. And another one ended in a Durant fumble. So Duke has four actual productive offensive plays.
Duke also had the ball for 9:33, while Wake had it for 20:27.
Dillon Singleton beaten badly in coverage. Newman to Hinton for 62 yards, and it's 20-10 Wake with 13:39 to go in the third. Duke again gets bombed immediately after coming out of halftime.
AJ Reed hits from 43 to cut the Wake lead to 20-13 with 9:02 to go in the third.
Duke runs for 31 yards on first three plays of drive, then throws deep, intercepted. Wake runs for 34 yards on first down, in Duke territory.
Wake converts the turnover into points. Nick Sciba sets an NCAA record for most consecutive field goals made to put Wake up 23-13, 1:06 to go in the third.
Duke on the move with 17 and 22 yard passes. The third quarter ends with Wake up 10.
Harris to Gray for 23 yards and a score to open the fourth. Blue Devils cut it to 23-20.
Tackling is getting worse for Duke as the game wears on. Wake QB Jamie Newman breaks at least three to get inside the 15.
Duke defensive players have limped off on the last three plays as fans booed them, presumably thinking they're faking the injuries to slow down the Wake offense, which is speeding along with a play every 25 seconds. Duke is running one every 24 seconds So perhaps the injuries are legit? Either way, booing injured players is a bad look.
Sciba with another field goal, and Wake is up 26-20 with 9:47 to play.
Damond Philyaw Johnson again! 98 yard kickoff return gives Duke a 27-26 lead with 9:34 to play. That ties Wilson's return against Indiana for 10th longest in history. Duke says this is the first time a player has housed two kicks in a game in school history.
Of course, the last thing Duke needed was to send its defense back onto the field. Newman to Hinton for 57 yards, and Wake is inside the 15. Kenneth Walker runs it in on the next play. Two point conversion is no good, making it 32-27 with 8:24 to play.
Wake sends the kickoff through the end zone (thanks to a Duke personal foul penalty on the two-point conversion) and gets a Bronx cheer from the crowd.
Free play for Wake after Victor Dimukeje jumps offside. Newman completes it to Greene who makes a 36-yard one-handed catch up the sideline.
Injury time out for QB Jamie Newman. Wake fans are silent on this injury delay...
Duke beaten to the edge again, by Cade Carney this time. 18 yards for the touchdown. Wake up 39-27.
Duke stopped on fourth down with 1:08 left. That should just about do it. Wake up 39-27.
Ballgame. Duke will need to hope for a five-win bowl bid based on APR.