Bowl-eligible Duke riding surprising start
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 23:10
Did you know that Duke has a football team? It’s acceptable if you didn’t. Other private, traditionally basketball schools don’t have teams that compete at the Division I level, such as Georgetown, Marquette and Xavier. However, Duke does compete at a Division I level and became eligible for its first bowl game since 1994 season, when most freshmen were born.
There have been three presidents, 11 American Idol winners and 15 seasons of “ER” since the last time Duke made a bowl game. That year, Duke made the Hall of Fame Bowl and lost to Wisconsin 34-20. The Hall of Fame Bowl changed its name to the Outback Bowl after its final game.
Yet after last week’s game against bitter rival North Carolina, the Duke Blue Devils became bowl eligible for the first time in 18 years. The Duke Blue Devils defeated the Tar Heels 32-30 on a late touchdown grab by Jamison Crowder on fourth down with only 19 seconds left in the game. The stadium’s sell-out crowd exploded and poured onto the field in Durham. This kind of emotion is normally reserved for basketball season where the “Cameron Crazies” have made their presence known for years around the ACC.
It took the Blue Devils 18 long years of being the ACC doormat to get to this point for their program, but what’s working this year for the Blue Devils? First, it has been a down year for the ACC Costal Division this year. Virginia Tech, Miami and Georgia Tech haven’t been playing as well as usual. In fact, none of these schools are above .500 on the year and Miami is the only one of those team other than Duke to have a winning record in the conference.
Duke has also been very lucky with their scheduling this year. The Duke Blue Devils stand at 6-2, with their only two losses coming to a ranked Stanford team and Virginia Tech. Other than those two teams, the Duke Blue Devils haven’t played any stiff competition in the early going. Most of their toughest games have been slated to occur during the last 4 weeks of the season. The Blue Devils play the Florida State Seminoles next week and then the Clemson Tigers the following week. The Clemson Tigers will travel to Durham, North Carolina for the match-up and it would be nice to see the Blue Devils pull off another upset in front of the home crowd. After the matchups against the ACC’s two best teams, the Blue Devils will play Georgia Tech and Miami, presumably for the ACC Costal Division crown and a shot at the ACC Championship game. This would be terrific for a team that had a 22-game losing streak 5 years ago.
Duke should not let this be its peak. Much like Connecticut, they are primarily a basketball school. UConn was able to use their high status as a top tier basketball program to attract athletes from different sports to come as well. The Huskies eventually found themsleves in the Fiesta Bowl, the first BCS Bowl game in school history. However, much of that culture has been lost since 2010. Duke needs to keep its staff on board and create a culture that will not fade. It needs to continue to be competitive and give their fans something to be excited about week after week. Duke has a chance to make this a defining moment for their program and not just a blip on the radar of their school’s history. Let’s see if it can make something special happen and turn Duke into more than just a basketball school.