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Duke Football Schedule Presents Challenges and Opportunites

Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

We are less than four weeks away from the start of the 2017 college football season. Duke is looking to rebound from a down year by recent standards.  The Blue Devils missed a bowl game for the first time since 2011, but showed plenty of promise from several young players.  Duke will have their work cut out for them to get back into the postseason this year.

There’s nothing easy about Duke’s schedule this season.  The 2017 slate features three teams ranked in the preseason Top 25 USA Today Coaches Poll and another five teams that received Top 25 votes.

Florida State, the favorite to win the ACC, comes into the season ranked third in the nation. They will visit Durham on October 14th.  The preseason pick to win the Coastal Division comes to town on a rare Friday night on September 29th.  The Hurricanes are ranked 18th in the preseason poll.  Duke will visit Virginia Tech on October 28th. The Hokies sit at 22nd in the poll to start the season.  Three of Duke’s other conference opponents, Pitt, UNC, and Georgia Tech, all received votes in the USA Today Poll.  In addition the Blue Devils’ Week 2 opponent, Northwestern, received a fair share of preseason votes.  Duke’s lone non-conference road opponent, Army, even received a vote for the Top 25.

Duke will also take on Baylor as a second Power 5, non-conference opponent. The Bears have a lot of question marks after losing players and recruits as part of the fallout from the sexual assault scandal that has been uncovered within the last few years. However, Baylor does return 10 starters from last year’s team.

In another measure of the strength of the Blue Devil’s schedule, ten of Duke’s twelve opponents in 2017 played in a bowl game last year.  NC Central plays in the FCS division, they went 9-3, including 8-0 in the MEAC conference.

If one aspect of the schedule works in Duke’s favor it’s the location of their games this season. Seven of the twelve regular season games on the schedule will be played in Durham.  Duke’s longest road trip of the season will be to West Point to take on Army.  All conference games will be played in either North Carolina or Virginia.  Not only will the minimal travel benefit Duke from a mental standpoint, but also provides a great opportunity for Duke to receive a lot of fan support, even playing away from home.

Duke will open the 2017 football season at home against NC Central on Saturday, September 2nd, at 6 PM.  The game can be seen live on the WatchESPN App as part of the new ACC Network.