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Ken Medlin

Duke is the Triangle's best bowl chance

Posted October 13, 2013

We're essentially at the midpoint for the ACC football season and, of the three Triangle-area teams, Duke has the best chance of going to a postseason bowl game.

Let that sink in for a minute.

Assessing the bowl chances for Duke, State and Carolina, we find little room for slip-ups along the way.

A Devilish Mood in Durham

How important was Anthony Boone's return for Duke? It could mean the difference between a bowl game and no bowl game. Admittedly, there are a lot of things left to be determined for Duke this fall, but Boone's surprise start against Navy has the Devils positioned to do something practically unheard of in Durham - make back-to-back bowl trips.

At 4-2, the Devils only need two more wins to become bowl eligible. To put that another way, Duke only needs to split in a group of four fairly winnable games (Virginia, State, Wake and Carolina) to go bowling for a second straight season.Yes, three of those games are on the road - only the game against NC State will be in Durham - but it''s certainly doable for the Devils to get two wins from that group. Anything else would be gravy.

Duke also has a road game against Virginia Tech and a home contest with Miami, but the four games previously mentioned will determine the success of their season.

Not Packing for a Bowl Yet

NC State's bowl path is a bit more challenging. At 3-3, the Pack has less margin for error than Duke - a full game, to be exact -  in the second half. The upcoming bye week should help injured players like Brandon Mitchell, Pete Thomas and Rashard Smith recover. their return to healthiness may be a lot more important for State than a strong showing in Tallahassee on Oct. 26.

Assuming State does lose at Florida State, the Pack will need to take three out of five from the remaining games: home vs Carolina, at Duke, at BC, home vs ECU and home vs Maryland. If the team we saw against Clemson and Central Michigan shows up for those five contests, State's likely to make the 6-win plateau. But the Richmond/Wake/Syracuse State team will struggle to get to five. A healthy Mitchell at quarterback - like Boone at Duke - may be the difference.

Back on their Heels

At 1-4, Carolina has a difficult path to a bowl - especially considering Miami (and a potential 1-5 start) looms large on the schedule. The one bright spot? The Heels' schedule gets easier. They'll need to win 5 of 6 from the following: home vs Boston College, at NC State, home vs Virginia, at Pitt, home vs ODU and home vs Duke. It's not impossible, but the margin for error is basically nil. Beating Miami Thursday night would do wonders to alter that equation.

 

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  • DUKE4EVER Oct 14, 2013

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    Uhmmm, Well Dude.....its like 2013 now, almost 2014....come on, catch up with us.

  • 903 sing Terry Watson sing Oct 14, 2013

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    The most compelling reason for them to leave the ACC for the SEC now is to get a higher ranking in the conference APR rankings...

  • abcershateme Oct 14, 2013

    that's like being in the pacific during WWII and as a squadron of zero's are coming in and the capt says put helen keller on the guns. she's our best shot on the ship.

  • uncsuckz Oct 14, 2013

    Doesn't speak very highly about the level of football being played in our area...and I am a Duke follower. Wake has been the bell-cow since Grobe's hiring but should Cutcliffe remain at Duke (and he will), they will continue to improve on the field and in the stands. The biggest problem I have seen is coaching instability. unc and State recruit "better classes" (especially unc) but that has not parlayed into onfield success on gameday for whatever reason. Keeping the head man in place (think K, Roy, etc in bball) usually sends a favorable message to the recruits and their parents. Would be interested in knowing the turnover/dismissal rate of the two public schools. Duke's is usually near zero.

  • aoakley336 Oct 14, 2013

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    When will people stop talking about UNC going to another conference? They're not going anywhere because they won't have complete control of the conference like they do in the ACC.

  • Deacons Oct 14, 2013

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    I agree. By the way, ECU is better than Duke.

  • Deacons Oct 14, 2013

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    State has NO chance of going to a bowl. They are awful. Let's not forget, going to a bowl means very little unless it is a top tier bowl. There are almost enough bowls for every team so if a team does not make a bowl then they are really bad. I also read read last week that UNC might look at going to the SEC for monetary reasons. They would not compete in football and basketball there would be difficult as well.

  • BISHOP5 Oct 14, 2013

    In defense of UNC, for those who really do follow football, when I saw their schedule a while back, I thought they might have some problems early. They have had some tough road games early. I was surprised by the ECU game...not by the others.

  • aoakley336 Oct 14, 2013

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    You played a team that lost to TULANE. UNC scheduled easy opponents too, they just didn't realize their awful defense would give up 55 points at home to a team that lost to Tulane.

  • BISHOP5 Oct 14, 2013

    Just an fyi people....NC is a hoops state, always has been. Moving on....

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