Northwestern, Duke meet intent on extending rebounds
After facing off four straight years from 2015-2018, the Duke Blue Devils and Northwestern Wildcats will renew their nonconference rivalry Saturday at Durham, N.C.
Northwestern won the first two meetings during that four-year stretch before Duke won the next two. The two academic powers have faced each other 20 times since 1985 and each team has won 10 times.
“We are playing a Power Five team, a Power Five program that’s a great program, not just a good team,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said. “It’s a huge test as it always is. Two programs that probably mimic each other in a lot of ways.”
Cutcliffe and Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald first faced off at the 1997 Citrus Bowl when Cutcliffe was the offensive coordinator at Tennessee and Fitzgerald was a senior linebacker at Northwestern.
The two coaches have developed a mutual respect over the years.
“He’s one of the best of the best, and he’s got a terrific staff and a very talented team,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re gonna have to play more consistent in all three phases if we want to be able to compete and win a road contest.”
The Blue Devils (1-1) bounced back from a 31-28 Week 1 loss at Charlotte to defeat North Carolina A&T 45-17 last Friday.
After rushing for 255 yards and three touchdowns against Charlotte, Mataeo Durant had a light workload against the Aggies. He rushed for only 41 yards on 15 carries but scored three touchdowns for the second straight week.
The Wildcats (1-1) also picked up a victory last week after losing to Big Ten foe Michigan State in Week 1, defeating FCS Indiana State 24-6 at home.
Evan Hull led the Northwestern offense with 126 rushing yards and two touchdowns Saturday. He rushed for 87 yards on nine carries against Michigan State.
Hull, who stepped into the starting role after Cam Porter suffered a season-ending injury before the season, has impressed the Wildcats coaching staff with his work ethic.
“He’s worked so hard this offseason to be prepared for the year, and it shows,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s stronger, he’s running behind his pads, he’s making people miss, he’s finishing runs. I’m just really proud of the complete back he’s become.”
–Field Level Media