Duke football came into Saturday's matchup with five straight wins, controlling their own destiny in the Coastal Division, but facing a talented Miami team coming off two blowout losses. The Blue Devils only had one "signature" win this year -- a 13-10 squeaker over Virginia Tech in which Hokie quarterback Logan Thomas threw four interceptions -- and many people doubted the legitimacy of Duke's football credentials.
Those doubts can be laid to rest, as Duke simply pummeled Miami into submission, running the ball for 359 yards and defeating the visiting Hurricanes 48-30 in Durham.
Miami took the lead early, scoring twice in a period of less than a minute. Matt Goudis's 32-yard field goal made it 3-0 Hurricanes, and after a quick Duke three-and-out, Stacey Coley returned a punt 79 yards for a score.
Duke responded on the ground with Brandon Connette, the Blue Devils' power-running quarterback. Connette rammed it in from 2 yards out to make it 10-7. Miami responded a few minutes later when Stephen Morris found Herb Waters for a 5-yard score, but the second quarter would turn out to be all Connette.
Duke's quarterback scored two touchdowns in the period and repeatedly just wore down the Hurricane defense with his power running, coupled with an ability to make accurate passes when needed. Connette found Shaquille Powell in the end zone on a 22-yard floater, and after another Goudis field goal pounded in a three-yard run to make it 21-20 Duke at the half.
Connette got right back to work at the beginning of the third quarter, scoring from 1 yard out on the first drive of the half. Miami responded less than a minute later by taking advantage of the athletic disparity between the two teams, as Morris found Waters for a 50-yard touchdown where no Blue Devil came even close to catching the Hurricane receiver.
The two teams traded field goals, giving Duke the 31-30 lead late in the third quarter. The Blue Devil defense came up huge with multiple third down stops of the Canes, and Duke was able to score a quick touchdown early in the fourth thanks to four very successful running games. The touchdown was scored by Connette -- his fifth of the day -- and it made the score 38-30 Blue Devils.
On fourth-and-1 from the 33-yard line, David Cutcliffe elected to go for it, and called a run play to Shaquille Powell up the middle. Powell burst through the hole untouched and made it to the end zone, giving Duke the 45-30 lead with under seven minutes to play.
Box Score Hero: Brandon Connette. Duke's power quarterback completed five of nine passes for 81 yards and ran ten times for 37 yards, but had five total touchdowns en route to the huge victory.
Rankings Ramifications: The Hurricanes were ranked No. 23 coming into the game, while Duke was unranked. Expect those two numbers to flip, with Duke possibly rising even higher.
But Did They Cover? Duke was a 3.5-point underdog, so they most certainly did.
Next Week's Schedule: The Hurricanes host Virginia next week, while Duke travels to face Wake Forest.