This is part seven of a 12-piece series examining all 12 ACC school’s 2012 schedule and making predictions based on returning players and incoming talent. Today we focus on our first Coastal Division team, the Duke Blue Devils.
Duke has been a consistent bottom dweller in the ACC for the better part of two decades. The Blue Devils haven’t been to a bowl game since the 1995 Hall of Fame Bowl (a loss to Wisconsin). Since then you have only been able to pencil in the Blue Devils for a win or two each season. Last year Duke had a 3-9 record and a 1-7 record in conference play. Head coach David Cutcliffe is slowly trying to build a program in Durham. He has a player in quarterback Sean Renfree to build a program around. The problem is that most of the players around Renfree are subpar talent compared to the rest of the ACC.
Duke starts out the season with a home game against Florida International. FIU is a member of the Sun Belt conference. The good news for Duke is that they aren’t particularly good. Their head coach Mario Cristobal is entering his sixth year as the Panthers head coach with a career record of 24-38. Duke needs to take advantage of their opponent and win this game (predicted Duke record 1-0).
The Blue Devils will follow that win with a trip to California to take on Stanford. Duke doesn’t have a chance in this one, even if the Cardinal doesn’t have Andrew Luck anymore (Duke record 1-1). Duke has a home game in week 3 against FCS school North Carolina Central. The Blue Devils lost to FCS school Richmond last year, but that won’t happen again. Duke will do what FBS teams are supposed to do against FCS schools, win (Duke record 2-1).
Duke’s final non-conference game comes against the Memphis Tigers. The Tigers only won two games last year, and this will be one of the rare games in which Duke is favored to win. The game is in Wallace Wade Stadium and Duke will use that advantage to pull this one out (Duke record 3-1). The Blue Devils first conference game is on the road against Wake Forest. Wake is a bit more talented than Duke and that will show in this one. The game will be close but Wake will win in the end (Duke record 3-2).
The Blue Devils take on the state of Virginia the next two weeks. They start with a home game against the Virginia Cavaliers. The Wahoos lost a lot of seniors after last season, but they are still more talented at just about every position other than quarterback in this one. UVa wins this game (Duke record 3-3). Duke then travels to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech. This was a tight game last year (VT won 14-10). Duke in recent history has given the Hokies trouble, but Tech still wins. The same thing will happen this time around (Duke record 3-4).
Duke’s next game is at home against archrival North Carolina for the Victory Bell. The Blue Devils haven’t had possession of the Victory Bell since 2003 and that streak will continue. UNC just has too much talent compared to Duke (Duke record 3-5).
The Blue Devils final four games down the stretch couldn’t be much more difficult. It starts with a road game against Florida State. FSU will in all likelihood blowout Duke in this one (Duke record 3-6). Clemson then visits Duke. This is another game that won’t be close. Clemson has too much firepower and the final score will show it (Duke record 3-7).
Duke then travels to Atlanta to take on Georgia Tech. This game was close last year, GT won by a score of 38-31, but Duke had home field. Georgia Tech is more experienced this year and will pull away late in this one (Duke record 3-8). The Blue Devils will then be visited by the Miami Hurricanes in the final game of the season. The U is going through a tough time with the ongoing NCAA investigation and new allegations, but Al Golden is still bringing in top talent. That talent gives Miami a decided advantage in this one. Duke doesn’t have much of a chance (Duke record 3-9).
Duke will start out the season well with a 3-1 record against out of conference opponents, but will struggle in conference play with a record of 0-8. Duke received a tough draw this season. They don’t play Maryland or Boston College this year (both are teams Duke could beat), and instead play Clemson and Florida State. Duke will finish at the bottom of the Coastal Division again in 2012.