Duke football 2023 ACC schedule, opponents announced

Duke head coach Mike Elko and quarterback Riley Leonard (13) congratulate each other after Duke beat Miami 45-21, in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in Miami Gardens.

Duke head coach Mike Elko and quarterback Riley Leonard (13) congratulate each other after Duke beat Miami 45-21, in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022, in Miami Gardens.


Duke surprised the college football world with a dramatic turn-around season last fall in Mike Elko’s first season coaching the Blue Devils.

His encore performance will require heavier lifting.

While going 9-4 last season for the program’s first winning season since 2018, Duke beat only two teams (Wake Forest and Central Florida) that finished with winning records.

The 2023 schedule, announced Monday by the ACC, includes nine games against teams that played in bowl games last season, including five teams that won their bowl games.

With the ACC no longer split into Coastal and Atlantic divisions, Duke plays seven of its eight ACC games against bowl teams from last season.

And it starts with a doozy: ACC champion Clemson visits Durham to play a Labor Day night game on Sept. 4 at Wallace Wade Stadium. The season’s first month closes with Duke facing Notre Dame at home on Sept. 30.

Duke has four holdover opponents from last season’s schedule in the old division format. The Blue Devils will once again play Wake Forest, UNC, Virginia and Pittsburgh. But they’ll play Wake Forest at home for the second consecutive season.

Can’t miss game

Clemson at Duke, Sept. 4: The opener will challenge the Blue Devils in major ways. Clemson has dominated the ACC for most of the past decade, twice winning national championships. Orange-clad Tigers fans will make the trip to help pack Wallace Wade for what projects as a festive season-opening game in prime time on Labor Day night in front of a national television audience.

Toughest stretch

From mid-October to the middle of November, Duke plays five games over five weeks against teams five ACC teams that played in bowl games last season. Three of those five games are on the road. The stretch starts with N.C. State at home on Oct. 14, followed by games at Florida State (Oct. 21) and Louisville (Oct. 28). The Blue Devils face Wake Forest on a short week of prep for a Thursday night game on Nov. 2 before heading to Chapel Hill to play rival UNC on Nov. 11. Duke’s hopes of making another bowl trip will live or die during this gauntlet.

Easiest stretch

On a schedule featuring nine teams that played in bowl games last season, finding an easy stretch is nearly impossible. The closest thing the Blue Devils get to a breather is in September. Following the brutal opener against Clemson, the Blue Devils face Lafayette and Northwestern on back-to-back Saturdays at Wallace Wade Stadium. Lafayette plays at the FCS level and Northwestern went 1-11 last season.

Notable nonconference game

Notre Dame at Duke, Sept. 30: The Irish make their third trip to Wallace Wade Stadium and the second since the school joined the ACC in 2013, maintaining football independence but agreeing to play five games against ACC teams annually. Just as in 2019, when Notre Dame won 38-7, a large contingent of green-clad Irish fans will descend upon Durham. It’s the first time Elko, who was Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator in 2017, will coach against the Irish.

Filled with intrigue

Duke at UNC, Nov. 11: The Blue Devils have not defeated the Tar Heels since Mack Brown returned for his second stint at UNC in 2019. Last October’s fourth consecutive loss in the rivalry series was particularly tough for Elko and Duke as a penalty wiped out a touchdown that would have extended their fourth-quarter lead. That allowed Drake Maye to drive UNC for a late score and a 38-35 win.




Sept. 4


Sept. 9


Sept. 16


Sept. 23

@ UConn

Sept. 30

Notre Dame

Oct. 14

NC State

Oct. 21

at Florida State

Oct. 28

at Louisville

Nov. 2

Wake Forest

Nov. 11

at UNC

Nov. 18

at Virginia

Nov. 25


Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. He placed second in both beat writing and breaking news in the 2019 Associated Press Sports Editors national contest. Previously, Steve worked for The State (Columbia, SC), Herald-Journal (Spartanburg, S.C.), The Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.), Charlotte Observer and Hickory (NC) Daily Record covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly. He’s won numerous state-level press association awards. Steve graduated from Illinois State University in 1989.

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