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Duke Football Entering Crucial Final Stretch

duke football helmetFor the second straight season the Blue Devils have entered the month of November in control of their own destiny in the ACC.  Duke is currently 4-1 in the ACC and 8-1 overall.  They sit alone in first place of the Coastal Division.  Once again, if Duke continues to win they will find themselves in Charlotte for the ACC Championship game for the second straight season.

It was just a year ago we saw Duke have their best season in program history, but if things continue on their current trend we may be applying that label to this year.

Faced with the reality of uncharted territory, combined with the preseason injuries to key players on offense and defense for the Blue Devils, expectations may have been tempered just a bit for Duke heading into 2014.  Certainly the Blue Devils were expected to compete in the ACC, and were still thought by many to be the favorite, but most experts expected another year of “Coastal Division Chaos” that would have everyone guessing who would emerge as champion until the final week of the season.  Instead 2014 has seen the Blue Devils as the consistent winner in the Coastal, while everyone else battles among themselves.

Duke will finish the 2014 regular season on a three game homestand, hosting Virginia Tech, North Carolina, and Wake Forest.  On the surface the next three games don’t appear that daunting for the 8-1 Blue Devils, but the final stretch of the season will be a test of focus and physicality.  Duke will face rival North Carolina in a primetime Thursday night game on November 20, just four days after taking on a talented and physcial Virginia Tech squad.  The short rest combined with the pressure of being a Top 20 team for the first time in 20 years along with the championship aspirations will be huge test for the players and staff.

The Blue Devils are expected to be favored in their final three games of the regular season, which begs the question: how far can Duke go?

An 11-1 finish and another Coastal Division title, and the marquee bowl game and top 15 ranking that would come along with it, is a well within reach for Duke.  That would certainly be a spectacular season for Duke, an unprecedented streak of success for the program.  Technically speaking, the Blue Devils aren’t yet out of the innaugural College Football Playoff picture.  With just one loss and a Power 5 conference championship, Duke would have to be in the discussion for one of the four playoff spots.

All of that will take care of itself.  For now it is still one game at a time for the Blue Devils.