Durham, NC – The sixth-ranked Stanford Cardinal travel across conference battle at Wallace Wade Stadium.
Following a highly successful 2010 season that saw the Cardinal win 12 games and post a rout of Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, John Harbaugh took his coaching talents to the NFL. All-American Andrew Luck did not follow suit however, leaving new head coach David Shaw with plenty of optimism in 2011.
Stanford certainly did not disappoint in the season-opener last week, as the Cardinal made light work of San Jose State at home, routing the Spartans, 57-3, its largest margin of victory in a season-opener since 1969.
In honor of the win, the Cardinal presented Shaw with the game ball.
"When the players presented it to me, I told them it didn't come perfectly, but hopefully, we'll get better next week."
David Cutcliffe's Blue Devils are at the opposite end of the FBS spectrum and are just seeking some consistency in Cutcliffe's fourth season at the helm. If the season-opener is any indication, it may be another long season in Durham, as Duke dropped a 23-21 decision at home to FCS foe Richmond last week.
This series is knotted at one game apiece, but will be the first matchup since Stanford's 10-6 victory in Durham in 1972.
Luck is regarded as the nation's premier signal-caller and he did not put up Heisman worthy numbers in the opener, he didn't have too, completing 17-of-26 passes, for 171 yards, with two TD passes, along with a rushing score. The Cardinal certainly had the ability to score at will, rolling up 57 points, despite a modest 373 yards of total offense.
Star tailback Stepfan Taylor was limited in action as well, but did lead the team with 61 yards on the ground and two TDs. Luck and Tyler Gaffney made it four rushing scores for Stanford, which would benefit greatly in the wide-open Pac-12 with a balanced attack, taking some of the pressure off of Luck and the passing game.
Despite the scoring output, Luck was quick to share the spotlight.
"We really didn't get into a rhythm," Luck said. "We scored 57 points, but a large part of that was our defense and special teams. They put us in great position."
Defensively, there isn't a whole lot to complain again from Stanford's effort against San Jose State. The Cardinal kept the Spartans out of the end zone and limited their foe to a mere 237 yards of total offense, including an anemic 27 yards on the ground (0.8 ypc).
Junior LB Shayne Skov will be called upon to be a leader on the defensive side of the ball for Stanford this season and he was solid in the opener, leading the way with seven total tackles.
The Blue Devils certainly have some talent on the offensive side of things, although it didn't help get the team in the win column against the Spiders. The team managed a balanced 379 yards total, with 178 of that coming on the ground. Tailbacks Juwan Thompson and Desmond Scott led the way with 86 and 80 yards, respectively.
Junior QB Sean Renfree managed the game well enough, completing 23-of-33 passes for 201 yards, but he wasn't able to land in the end zone with any of his completions. It will certainly come as the season progresses thanks to veteran wideouts like Conner Vernon (eight receptions for 78 yards last week) and Donovan Varner (four receptions, for 60 yards).
The Duke defense held its own against Richmond, holding the Spiders to just 288 yards of total offense, including just 95 rushing yards. However, the unit failed to generate a great deal of big plays, recording just one turnover (an INT) and three TFLs, with no sacks. Sophomore LB Kelby Brown was the top defender in the opener, finishing the game with 10 total tackles.
The team will certainly have to do a better job in getting upfield if Duke is to remain competitive with Luck and the Cardinal for very long.