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.