Their lead was just 14-6 at halftime and their offense was 0-for-7 on third down, including Travis Etienne recording just four yards on the ground. Etienne ran for 77 yards on four carries in the second half, including touchdowns of 27 and 29 yards in the final 30 minutes to break through. Duke was able to total 127 yards in the first quarter alone, but had just 135 the rest of the day. Clemson will look to earn the ACC Title when they battle Pittsburgh in the conference Championship Game on December 1st.
A team that will not be participating in a conference title game is the third-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who is still hoping to enter their second College Football Playoff. They helped their cause at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, improving to 11-0 with a 36-3 rout of No. 12 Syracuse. Ian Book threw for 292 yards and two touchdowns in his return to the field after one week off due to a minor rib injury. Book was replaced by Brandon Wimbush a week ago, as the Fighting Irish rolled by Florida State, proving their depth at the position.
Book assured after the game that "the ribs feel good" coming off his 10th personal win of the season. The Fighting Irsh's defense also stepped up, shutting down the Orange's offense that was averaging 44 points per game coming in to play. Notre Dame will battle USC next week, as a playoff spot remains within reach for them, despite them not being in a conference holding them back in the playoff conversations. We'll see how the conference title games on December 1st affect their ticket to the final four.
Another team that struggles to get taken seriously is 11th-ranked UCF, who has been begging to face the Alabama Crimson Tide for the past two years. They have gone unbeaten the past two years, under two different head coaches, yet their weak schedule makes the voters keep them out of the field. Although, UCF kept their unbeaten streak alive on Saturday with a 38-13 win over No. 24 Cincinnati. McKenzie Milton threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns, while running in for another score, helping the Knights improve to 10-0 on the season.
The Knights have now won 23 straight games dating back to last season, as they clinched the AAC East Division Title on this night. Milton's big numbers helped him overcome one interception, as his team will play in the conference Championship Game for a second consecutive season. The Bearcats did strike first with a forced fumble on Milton in the end zone, which was recovered by Kimoni Fitz for the first score of the night. They would not lead the rest of the way, as UCF gets ready for another showdown with South Florida on Friday. Those two teams put on possibly the game of the season a year ago, and many expect more of the same in the AAC Championship Game.