Duke's football program is... relevant?
Not only are the Blue Devils fighting for a winning record, but at 7-2 (3-2 ACC), they are battling for the top spot in the Coastal Division for a chance to play Florida State in the conference title game.
Their next opponent, Miami (Fla.), will do everything in its power to make sure that doesn't happen.
“Yeah, I think we've got a team that's been confident all year and not in a false way at all,” coach David Cutcliffe said on the ACC coaches teleconference. “But I think these guys believe they can compete with Miami and know that we have to play well.
"But we've known we have to play well in a lot of ballgames that we've played," he added. "So we've got quite a few fourth- and fifth-year guys on this team. So they understand. They've been in the battles. I think that helps you.”
Like last season, Duke has actual meaningful games to play in November. We're used to a one- or two-win team getting blown out by the Virginia Techs and North Carolinas, but that way of life has seemed to have changed under Cutcliffe, who is in his sixth year with the Blue Devils.
“I think it's huge,” Cutcliffe said of the importance of big game experience. “The thing that we've done is we've put ourselves in position to be playing in a big game in November, and we've done that two years in a row. You hope lessons learned and opportunities are coming your way that you take advantage of it. But we had a great home crowd a week ago with North Carolina State here, and we're certainly looking forward to the same with Miami coming to town.”
If Duke can get past Miami on Saturday, there's a good chance that it will represent the Coastal in the ACC Championship Game. It owns the tiebreaker over Virginia Tech, and future wins over Wake Forest and in-state rival North Carolina will be enough to put it through.
Duke is a three-point underdog, according to the Las Vegas Lines. That doesn't give the Hurricanes much wiggle room for mishaps, which has plagued them over the last few weeks.
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