David Cutcliffe is coming off the most successful season in school history with the Duke Blue Devils as he continues to build the football program into a consistent winner. In 2012, Duke went to their first bowl game in 18 years. Last season, they won the ACC Coastal Division on their way to the first 10-win season ever for the program. In 2014, Cutcliffe and the Blue Devils will try and maintain their success and will be helped by a very beneficial schedule this fall.
Duke will get their non-conference slate out of the way in the first four weeks of the season and will only face one team who qualified for a bowl game last season in the Tulane Green Wave (who lost the R+L Carriers Bowl to finish 7-6). The rest of their non-conference schedule is filled out by FCS Elon, the Troy Trojans, and the Kansas Jayhawks. That’s a very winnable stretch that should see Duke emerge no worse than 3-1.
But the Blue Devils’ biggest scheduling advantage comes in conference play. While they face a tough road test against the Miami Hurricanes to kick off their conference slate, Duke avoids the Florida State Seminoles, Clemson Tigers, and Louisville Cardinals from the Atlantic Division, which figure to be the top three teams in that division. That will be a huge advantage over other Coastal contenders who are not as fortunate, like Miami and North Carolina Tar Heels.
While Duke figured to be a very good team regardless in 2014 with 15 starters returning this season, having an advantage in scheduling only helps them as they try and duplicate their success from 2013. Will a beneficial schedule be enough to put the Blue Devils over the top and make another appearance in the ACC title game this season?