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To the surprise of no one, Duke won its season-opening football game against crosstown foe North Carolina Central University in the annual Bull City Gridiron Classic. But the margin of victory showcased an improved level of depth that was a harbinger of things to come for the Blue Devils in week 2 against Northwestern.
Now with two wins in their belt to start the season, the Blue Devils are averaging an Atlantic Coast Conference-best 50.5 points per game and the offense looks able to pick its spots and get points whenever it wants.
The defense is doing its part too, ranking second in the ACC in rushing yards, third in total yards and fourth and fifth in scoring and passing yards, respectively.
After dispatching Big Ten Conference foe Northwestern 41-17 last Saturday, the Blue Devils welcome Big 12 Conference opponent Baylor in week 3 at 12:30 P.m. on Saturday inside Wallace Wade Stadium on Duke’s campus.
The Bears were expected to be a quality opponent for Duke when this series was scheduled, but their program is in disarray after a sexual assault scandal spiraled into a cover-up disaster that caused a number of administrators and coaches to lose their jobs and players to transfer.
Heading into the weekend’s matchup, Duke is a two-touchdown favorite over Baylor and is expected to notch win No. 4 before heading to North Carolina in week 4. This will be the earliest the two rivals have played one another due to a scheduling quirk by the ACC.
CLOSE TO HOME
That trip from Durham to Chapel Hill will be the farthest Duke has to travel for the first five weeks of the season. In week 5, the Blue Devils host Miami for a Friday night showcase on Sept. 29.
There’s a real chance that Duke will be undefeated and ranked heading in to that game against the Hurricanes. UNC has started the season 0-2 for the first time since 2010 and is trying to find its way after losing a number of players in the offseason to graduation, transfer and early entrance to the NFL.
With a renovated Wallace Wade Stadium and rejuvenated game-day atmosphere, attending a Duke football game is one of the best values in athletics in the area. Night games in recent years have been electric events and that upcoming game against Miami should be well-attended. It will also be nationally broadcast on ESPN.
FOOTBALL ADDS 3-STAR DT
Elijah Brown, a three-star class of 2018 defensive tackle at Charlotte Providence Day, was visiting for the Duke-Northwestern game and liked what he saw so much that he offered his verbal commitment to the coaching staff before kickoff. Brown, a top 100 player at his position in the senior class, gives Duke its sixth in-state commitment in 2018. The Blue Devils’ coaching staff decided to focus on in-state talent this offseason and it has paid off in a big way in this recruiting cycle.
TOP-RANKED RECRUIT TO VISIT
When elite recruit Marvin Bagley decided to reclassify up a grade and join the Duke basketball program as a freshman this fall, it left a spot open at the No. 1 ranking in the Class of 2018. Enter RJ Barrett, who made the same move as Bagley in reclassifying back up to his natural class and stayed as the top-ranked player despite moving from the Class of 2019 to 2018.
Barrett took an official visit to Kentucky earlier in September and now will head to Duke on Friday for a two-day official visit with his family. It’s the second stop in a five-school circuit that will take him to Arizona, Oregon and Michigan.
Look for Barrett to be a fall signee in the early college basketball signing period between Nov. 8-15. Early predictions indicate that Duke is the leader for the 6-foot-6, 180-pound wing who dealt USA Basketball’s U19 team its first loss in international play since former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt was leading the team.
HURRICANE HARVEY RELIEF A SUCCESS
Duke hosted a fundraiser for Hurricane Harvey relief this past Saturday morning that allowed fans to come in to Cameron Indoor Stadium and play “knockout” with the players for a $10 donation.
The event was well attended for its two-hour duration and the program raised an undisclosed amount of money for Harvey victims through former player Justise Winslow’s Robin’s House Family Foundation. More information on Winslow’s efforts and a link to donate can be found at www.crowdrise.com/o/en/team/justisewinslow.
Adam Rowe covers Duke basketball, football and recruiting for 247Sports.com. Check out more of his work at duke.247sports.com.