Last week we led off the week talking of the great opportunity that was at hand for Duke Football. Well, the Blue Devils took care of business by snapping a long Wake Forest win streak in the series, and in the process pushed their season record to 4-1.
It’s easy to get caught up in your accomplishments after a big win, and the Blue Devils were feeling good about themselves after Saturday’s victory — that’s as it should be. But this is no time for resting on laurels. Being 4-1 only means something if Duke can seize the next opportunity.
The Blue Devils take on Virginia this week in a game where Duke is a slight favorite, and a win pushes their record to 2-0 in the ACC and 5-1 overall — which would be just a single win shy of bowl eligibility. So while Duke took advantage of its chance against Wake Forest to show people that this program is headed in the right direction, they have an even bigger opportunity versus Virginia at home this week.
The Blue Devils are talking bowl game, but you will not hear that being spoken loudly just yet. Everybody around the program is in a feel-good mode right now, but they know that their accomplishments will seem tarnished if overconfidence causes them so stumble against the Cavaliers.
My thinking is that Coach David Cutcliffe is more than a little aware of this and that he’ll have his team focused, but it will take just that. Duke will need to block out what they’ve done to date in order to give Virginia their best effort, as this is a team that may be better than their 2-3 record would suggest. The Cavaliers have played a pretty strong schedule to date, so underestimating them would be a recipe for disaster. And when you are in the midst of a rebuilding job like Duke is, you simply cannot afford to look past the opponent right in front of you each week.
Hopefully, the Duke fan base will see how big of a game this is for the program, and will turn out in droves to Wallace Wade to cheer the Blue Devils on. This team has earned that support and that respect. And if the fans do come out, as I anticipate they will, Duke will have another golden opportunity to show folks that they deserve their support as they fight their way towards a possible bowl berth, something that will be more than a whisper if the Blue Devils can find a way to win this one.
Once again, opportunity is at hand, and once again it’ll be interesting to watch and see what happens.