Whatever you do next year when Duke and Pittsburgh together, you might want to take the over. For the second striaght season, Duke and Pittsburgh traded blows on the scoreboard with high frequency. Pittsburgh had the last laugh in 2013, but this season saw Duke come out on top. It would take double overtime to do so, but it was worth the extra effort for the Blue Devils. No. 24/24 Duke (7-1, 3-1 ACC) celebrated a 51-48 victory over Pittsburgh (4-5, 2-3 ACC) after backup quarterback Thomas Sirk scored his second touchdown of the game.
Pittsburgh had a chance to win the game at the end of regulation, but a 26-yard field goal try by Chris Blewitt sailed wide of the goal. Duke used two timeouts to attempt to freeze Blewitt, and it worked. The missed field goal try sent the game to overtime, where the offenses continued to trade scores.
The teams traded touchdown runs in the first overtime, with Duke starting quarterback Anthony Boone running 12 yards on the first possession and Pittsburgh’s James Conner running 14 yards for the tying score. Conner had a monster performance on the ground with 263 yards and three touchdowns, but it was not enough. For Pittsburgh, neither was holding the football for over 40 minutes in regulation. This week the Panthers held on to the football (zero turnovers after an awful job holding the football last week) and outgained Duke 594-438 in total offensive yards. After Blewitt connected on a field goal to give Pitt a 48-45 lead in the second overtime, Duke pushed forward to give Sirk a chance to score the game-winning touchdown. Earlier in the game Sirk had pushed one in from the goal line. He did the same here.
Two of the ACC’s best wide receivers also went over 100 yards in this game. Pittsburgh receiver Tyler Boyd turned in 140 yards on seven receptions, but it was Duke’s Jamison Crowder who led all players with 165 yards and two touchdowns on nine receptions.
So, for now, Duke sits alone in first place in the ACC Coastal Division. At 3-1 in ACC play, the Blue Devils have a one game lead in the loss column over Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Miami and Virginia. Duke also owns head-to-head victories over Georgia Tech, Virginia and now Pittsburgh. Miami owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with Duke. Duke will have four more games to play, including three home games to end the season in Durham against Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Wake Forest. As long as Duke can avoid a loss at Syracuse next week, Duke could be sitting ina good shot at returning to the ACC Championship Game once again.
Of course, just when you think you have the ACC Coastal Division figured out it can be flipped around the next week.
Pittsburgh will have to win two more game sin their final three (@ UNC, Syracuse, @ Miami) in order to become bowl eligible this season.