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Posts Tagged ‘Duke’

Pick 10, F.B.S. Notebook: Week 2 (Sept. 8)

Let’s not beat around the bush: this isn’t a great week. I mean, it’s great – better than what we’re used to, better than any non-football weekend – but it’s not great, all things considered. There’s no Michigan and Alabama to end the night; there’s no prime-time game on ABC at all, in fact. Instead, we’ll close our night with Nebraska and U.C.L.A., Georgia and Missouri and, later on, Arizona and Oklahoma State. Very, very intriguing games. But with perhaps the exception of Georgia, depending on how highly you think of the Bulldogs, these games don’t carry any title implications. That doesn’t make the games any less interesting – or change the fact that every game, especially while teams find their footing, carries some level of importance. Let’s run down the entire weekend’s action.

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    Clemson Carries the A.C.C. in Week One

    Until – and perhaps after – Clemson sealed a 26-19 win over Auburn with a late interception, the A.C.C. was the loser of the opening weekend. Was Clemson’s win a weekend-saver for the conference? I’m not quite sure. But it was absolutely a game-changing win for the Tigers; more on that below.

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      Ranking the Triple-Digit 2012 Schedules

      Beyond the other important factors — like the team’s struggles along the offensive line, the defensive line, at wide receiver and in the secondary — Duke has been crushed by the A.C.C. itself, which has handed the Blue Devils a conference schedule you’d save for your worst enemy. Each of the eight teams on Duke’s A.C.C. slate reached bowl eligibility last fall, and the Blue Devils take on another two reigning bowl teams, Florida International and Stanford, over the first two weeks of the regular season. Is this the only reason why Duke is going to finish at or near the bottom of the A.C.C. standings?

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        No. 103: Duke

        David Cutcliffe has already had a better career at Duke than Ted Roof, Carl Franks, Barry Goldsmith and Barry Wilson, even if Goldsmith was responsible for the program’s last winning season, way back in 1994. These coaches, including Cutcliffe, make up the A.S.S. era of Duke — the period After Steve Spurrier, and excuse the vulgarity. Cutcliffe has brought respectability to the Blue Devils, winning games at a better clip than each of his five predecessors, but for this program, respectability comes with an asterisk. Cutcliffe might be 15-33 over his four years with the program, averaging just shy of four wins per season, and in this day and age, that’s marvelous. Is it good enough for Duke — meaning, does Duke think that another head coach might be able to do more? It’s an interesting question, and one only the university can answer. From where I’m standing, however, I’d give a coach who can flirt with five wins every season a lifetime contract.

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          Mega Millions-Level National Title Odds

          As you may have heard, the odds of pulling the winning ticket in a Mega Millions jackpot is 175,000,000 to 1. You are far, far more likely to win a gold medal at this summer’s Olympics than you were of picking six correct numbers last Friday. Not that the odds stopped me from buying a $5 ticket at my local convenience store, or prevented another risk-taker – as I witnessed while waiting in line – from stepping up to the teller and plopping down five crisp $100 bills. Do you have any idea how long it takes to print out 500 lottery tickets? To put the Mega Million odds in football perspectives, let’s consider one scenario: What odds would you give Hawaii to win every game for the next decade?

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            Ten Themes for Saturday: Week 2

            Ten teams, themes, games and players to watch on Saturday. Pretty straightforward. And off we go:

            “I’m not going to let Richmond beat us twice.” So says Duke’s David Cutcliffe, whose Blue Devils lost to the Spiders, 23-21, last weekend. One note: Richmond has beaten Duke three times since 2006. You can understand Cutcliffe’s logic, however, what with No. 6 Stanford next up on the schedule. The Cardinal are fresh off a 57-7 win over lowly San Jose State – sweat broken: none. The tale of the tape paints an ugly picture for the Blue Devils. Three touchdown underdogs, Duke lacks the offensive firepower to hang with the high-scoring Cardinal, let alone the defense to keep the Andrew Luck-led Cardinal within striking distance. What’s the bottom line? While a loss to an F.C.S. foe stings worse than any other, it’s quite possible that Duke will look even worse come the final whistle against Stanford. Projected final score: Stanford 52, Duke 17.

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              It Ain’t Easy Being Duke (Updated)

              It’s tough being Duke, or Iowa State, or Vanderbilt, or your conference’s resident also-ran. To reach bowl eligibility in a given season, one of these teams must not only beat the lesser teams on the schedule but also at least one heavily favored opponent, as the Commodores showed in 2008. That fall, Vanderbilt didn’t just beat one favored foe; it beat three, perhaps four, en route to the program’s first bowl bid in 26 years. But just as a note on how difficult is always is for a Vanderbilt to win seven games, look at the teams it beat as an underdog: No. 24 South Carolina, nine-win Mississippi, No. 13 Auburn and No. 24 Boston College. That’s how hard it is for the Commodores.

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                No. 89: Duke

                Duke has improved its scoring output in each of David Cutcliffe’s three seasons: from 215 points in 2007, Ted Roof’s final year, to 240 points in Cutcliffe’s first; from 240 to 302 in 2009; from 302 to 303 last fall. Unfortunately, the defense has taken a dip in each of the last three years: from 218 points allowed in 2008 to 340 points in 2009 to 425 points last fall. So, the clear lesson we take from this is that while you can be one-dimensional and win at some stops — Oklahoma State’s defensive allergies come to mind — it’s not possible to do so at Duke. Well, it’s possible: Steve Spurrier did it, winning 20 games in three years on the back of his offense. Of course, that was in an A.C.C. that lacked Florida State, Boston College, Miami (Fla.) and Virginia Tech. And there’s only one Steve Spurrier.

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                  The Countdown

                  A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.