Staff Picks: Duke @ Notre Dame

Irish Illustrated’s staff gives its predictions for Saturday afternoon’s matchup vs. the first of three consecutive ACC foes on the slate, the Duke Blue Devils.

To access Tim Prister’s official game preview, click here:

Of note, only one member of the Irish Illustrated staff missed more than two games last season (and it was 3). We’ve all missed two through the first three this fall. So…yeah.

Pete Sampson

The rough start – both for Notre Dame and my picks – has me gun shy about getting carried away with the Irish this weekend. A 25-point win over a Power 5 school has come just twice in the past three years (Texas, Michigan), yet this feels like a good bet.

Duke couldn’t muster more than 14 points in either of its losses to FBS schools. And while it’s hard to feel good about Notre Dame’s defense, this is a chance to get right. DeShone Kizer, despite pulling an all-nighter this week, bounces back from a middling game against Michigan State. And the defense plays well enough, even picking up two sacks.

Yeah, you read that correctly. Two sacks.

Notre Dame 45, Duke 20 
2016 Predictions: 1-2

Tim O’Malley

I pegged this as a Duke upset victory in August, but that scenario included a major letdown for a 3-0, high-flying, Top 8-10 ranked Irish squad.

Times have changed.

Duke is a far worse 1-2 team than is Notre Dame, but Duke certainly had its most upbeat, hope-filled week of practice in preparation for a trip to the House that Rockne Built. Conversely, do we know how Notre Dame responded this week to season-changing adversity? Coaches and players can talk about focus, and media and fans can expect it, but we’ve yet to see it for four quarters from the 2016 Fighting Irish.

I suspect that’ll be the same scenario we see Saturday, which is why I’ve reigned in my podcast prediction of 45-20 to a more frustrating 60 minutes of football – at least if you’re an Irish fan waiting for the season’s epiphany.

Notre Dame 35 Duke 20
2016 Predictions: 1-2

Jack Freeman

Lacking urgency? Need to shift from speed to power? The answer is Duke. If you’re the Notre Dame offense you’ll get to play against a feisty Duke defense that will challenge you but ultimately one you can dominate. On defense who’s confidence wouldn’t be boosted by playing an offensively challenged Duke that may even give you your first sack of the year.

Notre Dame 41 Duke 17 (I fully realize that I’m going against O'Malley science with my 17 points for Duke.)
2016 Predictions: 1-2

Steve Hare

Notre Dame isn’t playing well on either side of the ball-at least not consistently well—which will keep this game closer much longer than it should be. In the end, talent wins out and Notre Dame has the edge here. If the Irish can establish the running game and DeShone Kizer finds his rhythm early, the Irish could run away with the game, but odds of that happening are pretty slim.

Notre Dame 35 Duke 17
2016 Predictions: 1-2

Anna Hickey

This game is more about Notre Dame and less about Duke. In other words, if Notre Dame plays up to its standard in all three phases of the game - regardless of the ceiling of the defense - what Duke does shouldn’t matter. The Blue Devils rank 61st in third conversion percentage defense, so DeShone Kizer and the offensive line should be able to move the chains rather easily if it can establish rhythm.

On the other side of the ball, Duke ranks 6th in tackles per loss allowed, three spots ahead of Stanford. If Notre Dame records its first sack of the season on Saturday, it will be well earned. This is the game the Irish record their first sack of the season.

Notre Dame 35 Duke 17
2016 Predictions: 1-2

Jake Brown

One thing is for sure, Notre Dame will have to create its own momentum Saturday. I'm not sure there will be much life in the stadium after two losses and Duke coming to town. Fortunately, DeShone Kizer plays quarterback. It's a perfect time for the offense to get rolling more consistently and I expect it to do so, which should mean a big day for Kizer through the air.

Will the defense be perfect? Well, probably not. But it'll be good enough to let Kizer stretch the lead to the comfort zone. 

Notre Dame 41 Duke 17
2016 Predictions: 1-2

Len Clark – Multimedia Contributor

A sense of urgency is the theme surrounding the Notre Dame program this week.  The players and coaches know what needs to be done.  They key to an Irish victory is to control the controllable – play hard each down, and create opportunities.  Duke, like all visiting opponents will come into Notre Dame Stadium and play beyond expectations.  The Blue Devils are well coached, but the Irish will get things turned around.

Notre Dame 42 Duke 10
(Len’s debut pick on Irish Illustrated) Top Stories