It’s been 18 long seasons since the Duke Blue Devils made it to a post-season game, and when they take on the Cincinnati Bearcats in the Belk Bowl on December 27th, they will be looking to make the most of it.
The Blue Devils were one of the nation’s most surprising teams in 2012, starting the year 6-2. By virtue of a big win over the North Carolina Tar Heels, they had already assured themselves a spot in a bowl by mid October. Perhaps that joyous occasion caused the Blue Devils to take their foot off the gas though, as they proceeded to lose their final four games. In those contests they conceded an average of 49.5 points and 593.3 yards per game.
The school can easily look the other way about the losing streak, since ACC coach of the year David Cutcliffe finally avoided another disappointing season for the Blue Devils, and in the process earned himself a contract extension through 2018.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget the struggles the football program has gone through, since Duke has been such a powerhouse in basketball over the years. It’s hard to believe during their bowl drought they have also suffered through four winless seasons in 1996, 2000, 2001, and 2006.
One thing is for sure, Duke won’t be looking back at the past when they take on the Bearcats. At 9-3, Cincinnati is playing in its sixth bowl game in seven seasons and ranks 12th in the nation in points allowed. If Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils can pull off a victory then it would be the icing on the cake on a campaign that far exceeded expectations.
The challenge for Duke going forward will be to avoid being a one hit wonder.
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