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Know Thy Foe Military Bowl Edition: Duke Blue Devils

Better the Devils you know than the Devils you don’t

Duke QB Riley Leonard leads the Blue Devils’ offense
Photo by Peter Joneleit/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The UCF Knights wrap up the 2022 season with a bowl game for the seventh straight season, and they have a chance to hit ten wins for the first time since 2019. They face the Duke Blue Devils in the Military Bowl in Annapolis

Let’s take a closer look at the Blue Devils:

Game #14: The Military Bowl vs. the Duke Blue Devils

NCAA Football: Military Bowl-Cincinnati vs Virginia Tech
Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis
Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Kickoff: Wednesday, December 28th, 2 p.m. ET

Venue: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland


Series: First-ever meeting

UCF and Duke have never played before. The Knights are 5-13 all-time vs. ACC teams, but 2-2 this decade. Duke is 7-4 vs. teams from The American, and 1-0 this decade (vs. Temple this season).

Common opponents:

  • Temple — Duke won 30-0, UCF won 70-13
  • Georgia Tech — Duke lost 23-20 (OT), UCF won 27-10

About the Blue Devils

This Season: 8-4 overall, 5-3 in the ACC, 3rd place in the ACC Coastal Division

The Blue Devils rebounded nicely after a dreadful 2021 campaign (3-9, 0-8 ACC) that proved to be the last for noted QB guru David Cutcliffe at the helm. In their first season under Mike Elko, Duke started out 4-1 before losing back-to-back games against Georgia Tech and North Carolina but rebounded with another four wins in their last five. All four of the Blue Devils’ losses have come by one possession.

  • Last game: Beat Wake Forest, 34-31
  • Best win: at Miami, 45-21 — It was Duke’s second win at Miami since 1977
  • Worst loss: vs. Georgia Tech, 23-20 in OT — Brent Key’s second win as GT’s head coach

Duke 2022 Offensive and Defensive Stats

Category Offense ACC Rank FBS Rank Defense ACC Rank FBS Rank
Category Offense ACC Rank FBS Rank Defense ACC Rank FBS Rank
Rush Yards 184.8 3rd 39th 121.1 4th 26th
Pass Yards 236.4 6th 59th 262.2 12th 109th
Total Yards 421.2 4th 40th 383.3 11th 72nd
Points 33.1 5th 33rd 22.8 6th 36th
ACC rankings are out of 14 teams; NCAA out of 131 Source: NCAA

Key Stats:

  • Punt Returns — 19.91 yards per return (1st in FBS)
  • Turnover Margin — +1.17 turnovers per game (2nd in FBS)
  • Time of Possession — 32:44 per game (1st in the ACC)

Head Coach: Mike Elko

North Carolina v Duke
Duke head coach Mike Elko
Photo by Andy Mead/ISI Photos/Getty Images

In just his first season as a head coach at any level, Elko was named this year’s ACC Coach of the Year. Previously, he had served as a defensive coordinator at Bowling Green, Wake Forest, Notre Dame and Texas A&M.

Key Players

#13 Riley Leonard — QB

Sophomore | 6-4, 212 | Fairhope, AL

2022: 63.6% (231/363), 2,794 yards, 20 TD/6 INT | 636 rush yards, 11 rush TDs

Leonard was downright impressive for Duke in his first season as the full-time starter this year. His 3,300+ yards of total offense is top-30 in the nation, and he is also Duke’s leading rusher (not bad for a 6-4 kid), on top of his passing numbers. He’s thrown 9 of his 20 TD passes in the last three games.

#42 Shaka Heyward — LB

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 12 Virginia Tech at Duke
Duke LB Shaka Heyward
Photo by David Jensen/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Senior | 6-3, 240 | Dacula, GA

2022: 93 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 INTs

Heyward was one of a few leaders on the Duke defense, leading the team in tackles and forcing four turnovers this year.

#2 Jaylen Stinson — DB/KR

Duke v Pittsburgh
DB Jaylen Stinson
Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Junior | 5-8, 173 | Opelika, AL

2022: 69 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 2 INTs,

Stinson was outstanding in the secondary for Duke, finishing third in tackles and tied for the team lead in picks with two. He’s also an outstanding kick returner, averaging 25.3 yards per kickoff return on 15 returns.

Other Stuff To Know

  • This is the 13th Military Bowl, but the first since 2019. The previous two meetings have been canceled due to COVID.
  • The AAC is 3-3 all-time in the Military Bowl. Navy accounts for two of those wins (2-0)
  • ACC teams are 5-4 all-time in the Military Bowl
  • UCF has not won back-to-back bowl games since ‘12 and ‘13
  • UCF is 3-3 in bowl games outside the state of Florida. The last non-Florida Bowl game for the Knights was the 2018 Fiesta.
  • UCF is trying to get back to .500 in Bowls games for the first time since the 2014 Fiesta
  • The last and only time UCF faced an ACC opponent in a bowl, they lost to NC State in the Beef O’Brady Bowl.
  • The game was originally played at old RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., before moving to Annapolis in 2013.
  • The total payout for the Military Bowl is $2,066,990.