While reading this report, please imagine me in a flapping NBC windbreaker and hat, desperately yelling over the wind into my microphone:
Reporting live from Durham, NC, Hanna is here, and the question everyone is asking is: "Sure, no football team can stop the Blue Devils, but what about a hurricane?" Hanna has hit with much less impact than originally feared. It's been raining and gusting all night, but it should clear up by game time. Weather.com reports for the evening a partly cloudy sky, a mere 10% chance of rain, and winds around 14 mph.
But there has been a lot of rain, Durham is under serious flood warnings, and you can expect a soggy, slow turf which could impact the Riley sideline streak. (By impact, I mean slow him down to a mere 150 yards, 1 TD kind of night).
Duke has been practicing all week with wet footballs, but I think the conditions are an advantage to Northwestern. Last week the Wildcats rushed for over 260 yards while dismantling Syracuse. The Wildcats named their entire offensive line the player of the game. Duke's ability to stop outstanding running backs has often been a weakness, so it will be tested tonight against Tyrell Sutton, who was limited last season due to injuries. The Duke D will have to step up.
Last week our offensive line looked great. We had holes to run through, and Thad had plenty of time to throw. In a game like today, they will need to duplicate that performance, and this time against a much bigger 1A defensive front. Last year's win against Northwestern was done almost entirely through the air. Tonight they will need to run some.
That said, this was the one team Duke beat last year. They are clearly better this year. Here's what cut had to say about that:
"I think the pro would be a lot of these guys know they have beaten this team on the field. I think the cons are we gave up way too many yards, 500 and something yards, so it wasn’t all good from that point.
"The other part, a con I guess, is that probably Northwestern is pretty pumped up trying to steal one back that they probably felt like kept them from playing in a bowl game."
If I missed a bowl game with a loss to a 1-win team, I'd be pretty pissed, too. On Duke's side of things, it's a chance to go 2-0 since Fred Goldsmith's last stand in 1998.
One last word from Cut: "It's going to be really heated. I love these. It's two very similar universities under similar circumstances. The kids from both teams should be just competing like crazy. It should be a lot of fun."
Come back later this weekend for another full report from Wally Wade.
**Early, early preview for next week: Last night Navy gave up over 300 passing yards in a loss to Ball State. Thad takes things one game at a time, but if he didn't, he would be salivating at the thought.**