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Game Day Hub: Everything You Need to Know for Northwestern at Duke

This is your one-stop shop for the Wildcats' Week 3 contest in Durham.

The Northwestern Wildcats (1-1) are in Durham for a Week 3 contest against the Duke Blue Devils (1-1). Northwestern will wear their white Purple N helmets with white jerseys and purple pants, the squad's first time wearing this combo since 2018. Below is everything you need to know to stay up-to-speed on game day.

Northwestern vs. Duke

Date: Saturday, September 18, 2021

Time: 3:00 pm CT Kickoff

Location: Wallace Wade Stadium; Durham, NC

Watch: ACC Network

Stream: FuboTV

Listen: WGN Radio 720

Live Game Feed: Click Here

ESPN Football Power Index: The Wildcats have a 47.8% chance of winning.

Spread: Northwestern -2.5

How to Bet: Find the latest odds and place your bets on the Wildcats to cover the spread at SISportsbook.

Follow @SIWildcatsDaily on Twitter for live game updates and exclusive content throughout game day.

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Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile *** NO REPRODUCTION FEE ***

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Game Preview:

The Blue Devils are looking to improve on a disappointing 2020 season in which they went 2–9. It's been going well for them so far, as they have already accumulated half of their total wins last season in only two weeks of play. It’s very early and a small sample size, but Duke looks much improved from last season thus far.

Duke's Offense

The Blue Devils have multiple top performers from the 2020 campaign returning, and they have been showing out so far this season.

Despite ranking in the bottom half of rushing yards per game last year, they’ve started the season as the top rushing team in the ACC. A big part of that reenergized attack is returning senior running back Mataeo Durant. In Duke’s game one loss against Charlotte, Durant finished the game with 255 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He followed that spectacular performance with another three touchdown game in Duke's first win of the year against North Carolina A&T.

The one area the Blue Devils’ offense hasn’t seen much improvement in yet is their passing game. In 2020 they ranked 11th in the ACC in passing yards per game and while we are only two games in, they’ve jumped a few spots up to seventh in the conference. Duke’s starting quarterback grad student Gunnar Holmberg has been fairly impressive so far. In the teams first game against Charlotte, Holmberg finished with 228 passing yards and in the Blue Devils' Week Two matchup against North Carolina A&T he threw for 270 yards and ran in two touchdowns.

Duke is also returning their two top receivers from the 2020 season, junior Jalon Calhoun and senior Jake Bobo. The pair combined for over 180 receiving yards in their Week 2 win.

Duke's Defense

Defense was not the Blue Devils’ strong suit last season. They allowed the most points per game in the ACC in 2020 and a large part of their struggles were rooted in their inability to stop the run. Duke allowed the most rushing yards per game in their conference last season and through two games this year they once again rank as the worst defense against the run. The strong point in their defense a year ago was how they defended the pass. The Blue Devils ranked in the top 5 of their conference in defending passing yards per game last year and they haven’t fallen too far off that mark this season.

Will Duke's newly found rushing game take advantage of a Northwestern defense that has struggled against explosive backs?

One of the biggest question marks for Northwestern this season has been their ability to defend the run. In Week 1 Michigan State ran all over the Wildcats’ defensive game plan on their way to a 38-21 win. They adjusted in their Week 2 win against the less talented Indiana State, but the question marks still remain against more capable rushing offenses. 

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