Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson had a field day in last year’s contest against Duke. With a more seasoned Daniel Jones at quarterback this time around, the Blue Devils hope to match the quarterback play and flip the tables when they host the Wildcats on Saturday.
Thorson threw for 320 yards and three TDs as Northwestern dispatched Duke 24-13 in Week 3 last year. The junior got off to a good start in 2017, tying his career high with 352 yards passing, two TD passes and two rushing TDs as the Wildcats rallied for a 31-20 victory over Nevada last Saturday. Jones, a freshman making just his this third start when he suited up against the Wildcats last season, passed for 279 yards in the loss but couldn’t find the end zone and threw one interception. Jones showed lots of growth in the second half of last season and extended his streak of passes without an interception to 198 - the second longest in school history - in last week’s 60-7 rout over FCS opponent North Carolina Central.
TV: Noon ET, ESPNU. LINE: Northwestern -3.5
ABOUT NORTHWESTERN (1-0): Thorson threw for 237 yards in the second half last week as the Wildcats scored 24 points after intermission to rally from a 10-point deficit. He got help from Justin Jackson, who ran for 109 yards on 30 carries, and wide receiver Bennett Skowronek, who had eight catches for 123 yards. Jackson moved into 15th place on the Big Ten’s all-time rushing list with 4,238 career yards.
ABOUT DUKE (1-0): Jones completed 19-of-25 passes for 213 yards and two TDs against NC Central, as Duke scored on its first seven possessions en route to its highest scoring game since 1949. In eight games since Oct. 8, 2016, the 6-5 Jones has thrown 12 touchdowns against one interception. Redshirt freshman Brittain Brown ran for 120 yards and a TD on 10 carries in his college debut against the Wildcats - the first Blue Devil to eclipse triple digits in rushing since 2014.
1. Northwestern, which leads the all-time series 10-8, is 17-4 when Jackson rushes for 100 yards.
2. The 60 points scored by Duke was the most scored in coach David Cutcliffe’s 17 years between Ole Miss and the Blue Devils.
3. Brown’s first run was for 24 yards against NC Central and his second was a 39-yard TD.
PREDICTION: Duke 34, Northwestern 28