The Duke Blue Devils have been the cellar dwellers of the ACC for as long as most people can remember. Duke hasn’t been to a bowl game since the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl (a 34-20 loss to Wisconsin) and they haven’t been in the AP Top 25 rankings since 1994. Let’s put it this way, Bill Clinton was still in his first term as President the last time Duke was relevant in collegiate football. Blue Devils football fans hope that this is finally the year where Duke can win six games and go to a bowl, but is it there time yet?
If the Blue Devils are going to finally return to a bowl game in 2012 than two people must step up; first is head coach David Cutcliffe and second is starting quarterback Sean Renfree. Cutcliffe has been Duke’s head coach for five years with a record of 15-33 (not exactly exceptional) but people must remember that this is Duke, a school where academic standards limit their potential talent pool. Despite these facts Cutcliffe was able to recruit Sean Renfree, who many believe to be one of the better quarterbacks in the ACC.
Last season Renfree completed 65% of his passes and threw for 2,891 yards and 13 touchdowns. In his career he has thrown for 6,352 yards and 31 touchdowns but he has also thrown 30 interceptions. Renfree will have to have a spectacular season if Duke has any plan to compete in postseason play.
Duke’s schedule doesn’t exactly help their chances, they play a game at Stanford, and two of their three opponents from the ACC’s Atlantic Division are Florida State and Clemson. The Blue Devils have three winnable non-conference games against Florida International, North Carolina Central and Memphis. Conference games won’t be as easy, Duke should be competitive in games against Wake Forest and Virginia. Duke also plays against archrival North Carolina on October 20th and you never know what will happen in those kinds of games.
Duke also has one potential upset game on October 13th when the Blue Devils travel up to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech. Most people might simply brush this game off and believe there is no way that Duke could possibly beat the Hokies, but in recent years the Blue Devils have given Virginia Tech some trouble. Last season VT beat Duke by a score of 14-10 and 2009 the score was 34-26 with the same outcome. The Blue Devils will be a long shot to win this game, as in most games, but don’t immediately pencil in a blowout.
So at this point Duke has three winnable games, three competitive games and potential upset on their schedule, the chances of Duke winning six of them is low, but hey, you never know.