For the first time since 1941, Duke (9-2, 5-2 ACC) has won nine games in a football season. One more would send the Blue Devils to their first ACC Championship Game. It was a sluggish start against Wake Forest (4-7, 2-6 ACC) but Duke rallied and came through on both sides of the football to leave town with a hard-fought 28-21 victory. The win keeps Duke on top of the ACC Coastal Division with one game to play.
Brandon Connette finished a third quarter drive that saw Duke take their first lead of the game. He did so in historic fashion by rushing for his 26th total touchdown of the year to give the Blue Devils a 28-21 lead after the successful extra point attempt. The touchdown tied a Duke single season record for total touchdowns in a season.
With Wake Forest looking poised to answer, the Duke defense came up with two big plays to force a 4th and 35 punting situation. Defensive end Kenny Anunike came up with a shoestring sack and seven-yard loss on Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price and followed it up on the next play with a 13-yard sack of Price as the defensive line swarmed and collapsed the pocket protection. Duke later recovered a fumble midway through the fourth quarter at midfield, setting Duke up for a knockout blow.
With the win, Duke moves one step closer to wrapping up their first ACC division title since the conference expanded to a division format in 2005. If Duke beats North Carolina next week in Chapel Hill, then the Blue Devils will advance to face Florida State in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte. A loss will leave Duke open to having to rely on tiebreaker scenarios. Duke has never won ten games in a season, but could have three opportunities to set the new school mark.
As for Wake Forest, the loss sinks the Demon Deacons below the eligibility requirement to play in a postseason bowl game. Wake Forest will enter SEC territory next week to wrap up their season at Vanderbilt.