No. 23 Northwestern (2-0) at Duke (2-0), 12:30 p.m (ACC Network)
Line: Duke by 3 1/2
Series Record: Tied 8-8
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Northwestern wants to hold on to its first national ranking since October 2013 and perhaps deny the Blue Devils a spot in next week’s Top 25. Both teams want to prove their hot starts aren’t flukes. The Wildcats, 18-2 in September games since 2010, haven’t started 3-0 since ’13.
Northwestern’s defense against Duke’s offense. The Wildcats have yet to allow a touchdown and are coming off their first shutout since 2007, a 41-0 romp over Eastern Illinois. Duke has put up 37 and 55 points in its first two games, ranking ninth nationally in total offense. Wildcats DE Ifeadi Odenigbo said his team expects another shutout this week, prompting a few tweets from perturbed Duke RB Shaun Wilson – who called that statement ”a gamble.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Northwestern: Odenigbo has 2 1/2 sacks this season and 11 in his career, and will be going up against a retooled Duke offensive line that allowed the fewest sacks among ACC teams last year and has given up just one through two games.
Duke: KR DeVon Edwards hasn’t gotten much work – the Blue Devils have only received three kickoffs all season – but he’s taken one of them 95 yards for a touchdown. Only one active player – UTEP’s Autrey Golden (six) – has brought back more kickoffs for TDs in his career than Edwards, who has four.
FACTS & FIGURES
Northwestern has won six of seven recent meetings between the private, academically elite, major-conference programs. … That lone Duke win was a big one – a 20-14 win in Evanston, Illinois, in 2007 that snapped a 22-game losing streak and prompted the students back in Durham to storm empty Wallace Wade Stadium and tear down a goal post. … Duke hasn’t beaten a ranked nonconference team since beating then-No. 10 Stanford in 1971. … Both defenses have been tough on third downs. Duke ranks second nationally (10.7 percent conversion rate). Northwestern is third (11.5 percent).