Saturday, December 26, 2015

Duke Blue Devils: 2015 Pinstripe Bowl Champions




Indiana and Duke's Pinstripe Bowl matchup went back and forth so many times you'd think it was a basketball game (Indiana and Duke are historically better at basketball than football, you see).

And just like in basketball, Duke came out on top, winning 44-41 in overtime after IU kicker Griffin Oakes — the Big Ten's kicker of the year — missed a 38-yard field goal to win it ... or did he? Field goals can't be reviewed, but Oakes thought he made it, and he may have a point.

This was a special one for the Blue Devils. This wasn't the best season for coach David Cutcliffe since he's been at Duke, as his team won seven games, compared to nine and 10 the previous two years, but Duke had lost bowl games in those seasons, plus the previous year. This was the Blue Devils' first bowl win since a 7-6 win over Arkansas in the 1961 Cotton Bowl.

Duke looked like it had a chance to run away with this game early. Despite an interception, the Blue Devils took advantage of an Indiana turnover on downs and a Hoosiers interception to take a 10-0 lead. However, even through another IU interception, the much-improved Hoosiers defense held and waited for the vaunted passing offense to get going. It did, with two straight touchdown drives and 17 total points in the second half.

The second half is where things got really nutty, like a game involving #CHAOSTEAM should.

IU's offense got rolling, with over 200 rushing yards from Devine Redding, a touchdown from an Alex Rodriguez in Yankee Stadium. However, it was the defense that stepped up, with a fumble recovery, an interception from a defensive tackle and a big fourth down stop deep in their own territory. That's not the Indiana of old, but that's fitting of this season.

IU's offense got rolling (and it got a touchdown from an Alex Rodriguez in Yankee Stadium), but it was the defense that stepped up, with a fumble recovery, an interception from a defensive tackle and a big fourth down stop deep in their own territory. However, the defense couldn't hold at the end of the game, as Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk drove his team down the field for a touchdown with 41 seconds left to send the game to EXTRA INNINGS.

Sirk got injured on third down of Duke's overtime possession, leading to a field goal. The next possession, Oakes, who missed a potential 56-yard game winner at the end of regulation, missed again.

This bowl win is just another milestone for Duke, which continues to become a strong program under Cutcliffe. With the bowl victory, and with a young offense that should get better, the Blue Devils have the momentum of four straight bowl seasons heading into 2016.
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