No. 4 Notre Dame has the unenviable task of traveling to Durham, N.C., and tangling on Saturday with a Duke squad that dropped a 14-12 decision to then-No. 10 Denver last Saturday and falling four spots in The Sun’s rankings to No. 10.
If the Blue Devils are incensed about dropping their season opener to the Pioneers and are planning on channeling that fury into Saturday’s contest against the Fighting Irish, Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said he is more concerned with Duke’s physical skills.
“I don’t worry if they’re angry or not,” he said. “I worry about what they’re capable of doing. Anytime we’re preparing for a team, we’re preparing for the best they can be. So whether that’s because they’re angry or because they’re happy, I’m not going to worry about that. But we are going to prepare for them at their best, and them at their best is a very, very good team.”
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Saturday’s game will mark the fourth consecutive season that the Fighting Irish have opened the year against the Blue Devils. Hardly anyone would accuse Notre Dame of ducking opponents if it opted to schedule a weaker opponent for future season openers, but Corrigan said that doesn’t fit his philosophy.
“I love playing a tough game early like that,” he said. “I think it really gives a sense of urgency to the preseason that to me is a good match with the way we like to build up our team. So I really like having that early, tough game that makes our guys really pay attention from the fall through the preseason.”