The college football world will collide in Durham, North Carolina on Saturday night, as the No. 17 Duke Blue Devils (4-0) will host the No. 11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-1) in primetime. Duke already has a signature win on the season, as Mike Elko's squad clobbered Dabo Swinney's Clemson Tigers at home on Labor Day night. As for Notre Dame, they just suffered their first loss of the year in Week 4.
While the winner of this game will receive a ton of praise, will it even be Duke? Yes, the Irish have had a miserable time in my 34 years of beating teams ranked inside of the top 10. Duke is seven spots worse than that designation, but Elko's team can still ball. Another loss by Marcus Freeman's squad could have the Irish boosters questioning their decision to replace Brian Kelly from within with him.
So with that in mind, have the Blue Devils ever beaten the Fighting Irish on the football field? Yes, these two teams play hoops in the ACC, but this is football, baby. While Duke has certainly had its moments previously under the likes of David Cutcliffe and Steve Spurrier long before that, Notre Dame is a national power for a reason. The Irish have already made the College Football Playoff twice.
Believe it or not, Duke has actually won a pair of games in this all-time series. Notre Dame leads the Blue Devils by a 5-2 mark all-time. Even more shocking, Duke's last win over Notre Dame was in 2016.
Duke football: Have Blue Devils ever beaten Notre Dame Fighting Irish?
These two "ACC" schools first met on the football field back in 1958. Terry Brennan's Irish bested Bill Murray's Blue Devils (Bill F*****g Murray!) 9-7 in South Bend that day. Murray would notch Duke's first win over the Irish three years later to the tune of 37-13 over Joe Kuharich's squad. They would meet one more time in the 20th century, as Ara Parseghian's Irish shut out Tom Harp's team 64-0 in 1966.
The next meeting between these two teams was some 41 years in the making. Charlie Weis' Fighting Irish dominated Ted Roof's Duke squad 28-7 in 2007 back in South Bend. Nearly a decade later, these teams would meet for a fifth time. That was in 2016, Kelly's worst year leading the Irish. Not only did he force DeShone Kizer to throw the ball 40 times in a Raleigh hurricane, 4-8 Notre Dame lost to Duke.
That 2016 game in question saq Cutcliffe's team win a nailbiter over the Golden Domers in South Bend, 38-35. This was the first road victory in this series for either team. With Notre Dame joining the ACC in pretty much all other sports, they have played the Blue Devils far more regularly in the last decade. Kelly beat Cutcliffe in the two most recent meetings, coming back in 2019 and later in 2020.
Riding a two-game losing streak to the Irish, let's see if Elko's boys can get it done vs. Notre Dame.