Jeff Gravley

Duke wins Coastal, improbable but not impossible

Posted November 30, 2013
Updated December 1, 2013

When David Cutcliffe left the interview room, he was met at the door by an Orange bowl official. Cutcliffe told him "We plan to come see you down there," referring to a bowl trip to Miami. The winner of the ACC championship game gets the Orange bowl bid and the Coastal Division champs will have to beat Florida State to keep Cutcliffe's plan in tact.

That is going to be a long shot.. But what did Kevin Garnett yell. "Anything is poooooosssssible!"

Duke's run this year in football is improbable but not impossible. They laid the groundwork last year winning 6 games and becoming bowl eligible. They suffered a last minute, crushing defeat to Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. When the team got back together in January, Cutcliffe liked what he saw. That bowl game ate at the players just like it did the Duke staff.

The players that had gone through a 3-9 season wasn't just happy with going to a bowl. They were hungry for more.

Four games into this season, Duke suffered another blow to the gut. They scored 55 points on Pittsburgh but gave up 58 in the loss...their 2nd in a row. How would they respond?

Well they haven't lost since, reeling off 8 consecutive wins.

There are enough players on this team that have deep scar tissue from past shortcomings. It has helped them deal with the peaks and valleys of a game and a season.

They win 2 road games in Virginia. They win 2 games even when Anthony Boone throws 7 picks. They run over Miami between the tackles. They beat their rivals in Chapel Hill when all was on the line.

Coach Cutcliffe told his guys, don't worry about losing the game, go out there and win it. Enjoy it!

If there is series of events that cements a transformation of Duke football, it happened in the 2nd quarter against North Carolina. The Devils fumble a punt to the Tar Heels. They have a fumble recovery in the end zone overturned. Carolina quarterback Marquisse Williams scrambles for a touchdown, followed by a 2-point conversion for a 15-10 lead.

How does Duke respond?

Calmly and quickly, freshman DeVonte Edwards takes the ensuing kickoff back 99 yards for the touchdown,17-15 Blue Devils. "We shocked them (North Carolina) because they thought we were going to fall over like Duke has done in the past," Edwards said. "I don't think they were ready for the new nation of the Blue Devils."

A lot of people weren't. But the ones who got to ring the victory bell for the second year in a row sure believed.

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  • DEVILS1 Nov 30, 9:34 p.m.

    Beat FSU!

    GO DEVILS

  • Objective Scientist Nov 30, 9:44 p.m.

    It was a cold day in Kenan... which was reportedly "SOLD OUT", but I saw scattered empty seats that would have added up to a significant number. And... not sure we will ever see all seats filled again in Kenan - not with the "Blue Zone" ticketholders who never venture outside of their "comfy confines" inside. I'm not convinced the Blue Zone was the "best idea". Nevertheless, there was a level of "excitement" about this game on campus, around the stadium, and within the stadium that has not been evident in quite a while.

    I've seen MANY Carolina-Duke football games and would list several others above this one with regard to being great and truly exciting... but, this was a good one. This Duke team... is not a great team, but it is a very good team. Cutcliffe has absolutely "made the most of what he had to work with" with regard to personnel and a long-standing "culture" in the Duke football program - and the players have developed a belief in themselves as individuals and as a team that has not existed in a Duke football team for many years. Cutcliffe's coaching and character, along with the Duke players effort and character won this game for them. Congratulations to a "quality coach" and a "quality program" on the win! Hope you can find a way to win against FSU. This is one Tar Heel who will be pulling for you!

  • DEVILS1 Nov 30, 9:59 p.m.

    It was a cold day in Kenan... which was reportedly "SOLD OUT", but I saw scattered empty seats... View More

    — Posted by Objective Scientist

    What a guy! UNC did turn their season around, go to a bowl and gain the valuable practices (15 I believe)teams are allowed during the off season; Coaches always mention the importance of this. I know Cutcliffe will...

    GO DEVILS

  • tdebord Nov 30, 10:09 p.m.

    I have to grin just a little at the media. Didn't they pick Duke last or next to last preseason?

    I've been a life-long Hokie but I gotta tip my hat to coach Cutt and Duke. Helluva year and congrats. Good luck against FSU in the ACCCG.

  • natsfan1965 Nov 30, 10:34 p.m.

    Duke just finds ways to win. I would not be shocked if Duke pulls the upset next week. They do what they need to to win. I would love to see it. They have been the little engine that could all season. Let's see if they can climb the big mountain. Either way they have had a great season. Congrats to the players and coaches. Well done Duke

  • jkorneg Nov 30, 10:35 p.m.

    A lot of WRAL employees posted UNC to win. They were awfully wrong. I am an NC

    State fan. Even I knew Duke would win this game. Why does everyone think UNC is the chosen one. Go figure.....

  • lanecc Nov 30, 11:14 p.m.

    Improbable to us but not to Coach Cut. That's how you create a winning culture.

  • Hosscat Nov 30, 11:15 p.m.

    Duke just finds ways to win. I would not be shocked if Duke pulls the upset next week. They do... View More

    — Posted by natsfan1965

    I have had season tickets and only missed 2 home games since Coach Cut arrived. It was slow and painful at times, but you could just feel things changing and see a determined group fighting to dig out of years in the abyss. A helluva thing to witness!!

  • 903 Hook em banned Nov 30, 11:47 p.m.

    A lot of WRAL employees posted UNC to win. They were awfully wrong. I am an NC
    State fan. Even... View More

    — Posted by jkorneg

    because on paper, unc looks like they should have the better team.... but that ignores the difference between great coaching and barely sufficient coaching and how that evens things up....

  • PricelessGemUNC Dec 1, 12:33 a.m.

    GO NOLES! NEVER EVER DO I PULL FOR DUKE! May the Noles hang 70 on them!

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
CHR 2
DUR 9
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
CHI
 
7:05pm Tonight
DUR
NOR
 
7:05pm Tuesday
PHI 0
ATL 0
7:05pm Tuesday
NYY 0
CHC 0
7:05pm Tuesday
BAL 0
TAM 0
7:08pm Tuesday
DET 0
CLE 0
Final
CIN 7
PIT 5
Final
MIA 11
WAS 2
Final
TEX 5
SEA 0
Final
CWS 2
BOS 1
Final
HOU 2
KAN 4
Final
MIL 1
STL 6
Final
MIN 3
TOR 9
Final
ARI 0
NYM 9
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ANA 7
OAK 9
 
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SDP 2
COL 3
 
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PIT
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CHR 2
DUR 9
 
7:05pm Tonight
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NOR