The loss is the second in a row for Duke (5-3, 2-2 ACC) while Louisville (7-1, 4-1 ACC) remains in strong position to gain a spot in the Dec. 2 ACC championship game at Charlotte.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Woeful offense for Duke
Duke’s medical staff was able to get quarterback Riley Leonard’s sprained right ankle well enough for him to play but it really didn’t do the Blue Devils much good in the end.
Duke failed to get its usually potent running game going, which led to too many failures on first- and second-down plays.
Duke finished with a season-low 51 rushing yards, averaging just 2.4 yards per carry. The Blue Devils 202 total yards also marked a season low.
The Blue Devils played at less than full strength along the offensive line. Graham Barton, Duke’s preseason all-ACC left tackle, was not in uniform due to a lower-body injury. It’s the second game Barton has missed this season. An upper body injury kept him out of the 21-14 loss to Notre Dame on Sept. 30.
During the first quarter, interior lineman Jacob Monk received medical attention for a lower body injury. He returned to the game but was injured again and this time he didn’t return. The injuries robbed Duke of its two most experienced offensive linemen and hurt the Blue Devils at three positions since Monk regularly alternates between center and guard during games.
In addition to the struggles running the ball, Duke allowed quarterback Riley Leonard to absorb four sacks. Entering the game, Duke’s quarterbacks had only been sacked five times all season. That was the fewest among any ACC team.
Duke also hurt itself with nine offensive penalties as every offensive lineman was called for at least one penalty.
Center Scott Elliott and left tackle Brian Parker both being called for false starts. Elliott also picked up a holding call as well as an illegal procedure for snap infraction. Right tackle Jake Hornibrook was also called for holding as was Elliott. Guard Justin Pickett was called for a personal foul for unnecessary roughness and the offense was also called for a delay of game. Guard Maurice McIntyre also picked up an unnecessary roughness penalty
Louisville runs all over Duke’s defense
Led by running back Jahwar Jordan, the Cardinals established the run on their first drive and were rarely stopped. Before the fourth quarter started, Louisville had more rushing yards against Duke than any other team this season.
The Cardinals finished with 234 rushing yards, averaging 4.9 yards per carry.
Jordan, who had been hobbled by a hamstring injury in recent weeks, scored rushing touchdowns on Louisville’s first two drives. He finished with a career-high 162 yards on 21 carries.
Resiliency lacking for Duke
For the first time in Mike Elko’s tenure as Duke’s coach, the Blue Devils have lost consecutive games.
It must be noted that both have come on the road against ranked teams. But, regardless, after not losing back-to-back games over the last two seasons and not losing by more than eight points, Duke has lost 38-20 at Florida State and 23-0 at Louisville over the last two Saturdays.
With Florida State scoring the final 21 points of its game with Duke, the Blue Devils allowed 44 consecutive points without providing an answer.
Now the Blue Devils face a short week to prepare for another ACC game, this one against Wake Forest, on Thursday night at Wallace Wade Stadium.
Earlier updates from the game:
Travelstead FG: Louisville 23, Duke 0
Brock Travelstead’s third field goal of the game, this one from 24 yards out, extended Louisville’s lead to 23-0 over Duke with 3:24 to play in the third quarter.
The scoring chance was set up when Cardinals linebacker Gilbert Frierson intercepted Duke quarterback Riley Leonard’s pass and returned it to the Duke 15.
Travelstead FG: Louisville 20, Duke 0
On the opening possession of the second half, Louisville marched inside the Duke 20 once again before settling for a 20-yard Brock Travelstead that gave the Cardinals a 20-0 lead with 7:32 to play in the third quarter.
Duke was unable to generate much offense in the first half and trailed Louisville, 17-0.
The Blue Devils gained only 97 total yards over the first two quarters. Duke’s running game, one of the ACC’s best this season, struggled while gaining just 47 yards. Duke entered the game averaging an ACC-best 5.62 yards per carry, but managed just 3.4 yards per attempt in the first half at Louisville.
Duke’s offensive line is at less than 100% due to injuries. Left tackle Graham Barton is not in uniform due to a lower-body injury. Jacob Monk, who alternates between center and right guard, left the game due to injury in the first quarter.
Junior running back Jawhar Jordan paced the Cardinals offense, gaining 106 yards on 12 carries with two touchdowns.
Travelstead FG: Louisville 17, Duke 0
The Cardinals tacked on points just before halftime as Brock Travelstead booted a 47-yard field goal with 49 seconds left in the second quarter.
Jordan scores again: Louisville 14, Duke 0
Two Louisville possessions, two Jawhar Jordan touchdowns. The junior running back scored on a 23-yard run with 1:01 left in the first quarter giving the Cardinals a 14-0 lead over the Blue Devils.
Jordan TD run: Louisville 7, Duke 0
Jawhar Jordan’s 14-yard touchdown run with 7:13 to play in the first quarter gave the Cardinals a 7-0 lead over Duke.
Jordan carried five times on a 72-yard scoring drive, gaining 49 yards.
Pregame injury update
Quarterback Riley Leonard, playing through a high ankle sprain, will start for Duke at Louisville. Leonard originally suffered the injury on Sept. 30 at home against Notre Dame. He missed Duke’s 24-3 win over N.C. State on Oct. 14 but returned to start what became a 38-20 loss at Florida State on Oct. 21. Leonard re-aggravated the injury in the third quarter and was helped from the field.
Duke will be without three other key players, though, as cornerback Myles Jones, tight end Nicky Dalmolin and left tackle Graham Barton are unavailable.
A major player in Duke’s pass defense, cornerback Myles Jones will miss the Louisville game with a lower-body injury. Jones also missed the Florida State game. Tight end Nicky Dalmolin (lower body injury) will miss his third consecutive game.
Barton missed Duke’s win over N.C. State due to an upper-body injury and returned to play against Florida State. But he will not play against Louisville due to a lower-body injury.