Shocker in Durham

    In a stunning shock, the ninth-ranked Clemson Tigers were defeated by the Duke Blue Devils with a final score of 28-7 in their season opener. Since defeating Clemson in 1989, this was Duke’s first victory over a top-10 foe. The Blue Devils, entering the matchup as two-touchdown underdogs, orchestrated an exceptional performance under the guidance of coach Mike Elko. This victory ended Duke’s 19-year winless streak against Clemson but also represented their first win against a top-10 opponent since legendary coach Steve Spurrier’s era in 1989.

    Duke football upsets No. 9 Clemson to snap Blue Devils' streak

    Photo Cred: Fay Observer

    Clemson has rebuilt offense under the direction of first-year coach Garrett Riley and quarterback Cade Klubnik, but the Tigers had trouble getting going. Costly mistakes within the red zone, including a blocked 23-yard field goal and two fumbles near the goal line, marred the Tigers’ performance throughout the contest.

    Duke’s quarterback, Riley Leonard, emerged as a star, demonstrating versatility and poise. His electrifying 44-yard touchdown run in the third quarter shifted the game’s momentum in Duke’s favor, and they maintained their lead. Leonard demonstrated his ability to succeed against one of the best defensive units in the country by finishing the game with 273 total yards.

    Photo Cred: USA Today

    Clemson’s sophomore quarterback, Cade Klubnik, entered the season with considerable expectations and Heisman Trophy considerations. However, his performance in this game raised doubts about whether he lived up to the preseason hype. Klubnik had trouble completing long passes, finishing with 209 passing yards and an average of less than 5 yards per attempt. His sole touchdown came from a short pass to Will Shipley in the first half.

    The defeat has prompted questions about the standing of Clemson’s head coach, Dabo Swinney, among the top coaches in college football. While Swinney has garnered substantial acclaim in the past, some now speculate whether his previous success was linked to the presence of exceptional talents such as Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence. The strong debut of former Clemson quarterback DJ Uiagalelei at Oregon State, where he threw for 239 yards and scored five total touchdowns, further cast doubt on Clemson’s offensive struggles. He hasn’t adapted to the changing landscape of college football. He has been vocally against NIL and the Transfer portal.

    Duke upsets Clemson: Dabo Swinney, Tigers continue to fall behind - Sports  Illustrated

    Photo Cred: SI

    Although the victory may technically be an upset, it was well-earned and comprehensive. Duke outperformed Clemson in every facet of the game, highlighting their physicality, speed, and determination. The Blue Devils’ offensive line demonstrated resilience against Clemson’s formidable defense, and their team speed rivaled, if not surpassed, that of the Tigers.

    Clemson faces a formidable challenge to rebound from this unexpected setback. Conversely, Duke has gained substantial momentum and will look to build on this historic win as they prepare to face Lafayette in their next game. Duke’s remarkable triumph over Clemson not only surprised the college football community but raised questions about the trajectory of both teams in the 2023 season. As the season unfolds, fans and pundits will closely monitor how Duke and Clemson respond to this early-season twist of fate.

    Joshua Vargo
    Joshua Vargo
    Not only is Joshua the Marketing Director, but also a writer for Sports Radio America. Joshua is currently attending Central Michigan University to obtain a degree in Entrepreneurship, before heading to The Ohio State University to get his Master's Degree in Business Administration.

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