It’s incredible that Duke has reached this point.
David Cutcliffe has completed one of the most incredible turnarounds in the history of college football, and the fact that the Blue Devils are Coastal Division champions and playing for a championship tonight is something no one expected.
On the other side, Duke faces the No. 1 ranked team in the country—the 12-0 Florida State Seminoles.
Florida State is heavily favored and a win tonight would lock up a spot in the BCS Championship game. The Seminoles are loaded with NFL talent and have the leading candidate to win the Heisman Trophy in Jameis Winston. They enter the game as 29.5 point favorites and most experts have already penciled this as another easy win for the ‘Noles.
Even many Duke fans are simply hoping the Blue Devils can keep it competitive and avoid getting embarrassed.
A win by Duke tonight would be nearly unthinkable. Unimaginable. Impossible. Except…it’s happened before.
In 2003, the Oklahoma Sooners entered the Big 12 championship as the No. 1 team in the country and were considered unbeatable. They were incredibly dominant in the regular season and were led quarterback Jason White, the eventual 2003 Heisman Trophy winner. The 2003 Oklahoma team was being discussed as one of the best teams in the history of college football.
It wasn’t a question of if Oklahoma would beat Kansas State in the Big 12 championship game—it was a question of how badly they would beat them.
No one outside the players in the Kansas State locker room thought the Wildcats had a chance. People thought it would be a great accomplishment if they could keep it respectable.
The same things have been said about Florida State and Duke going into tonight’s game.
Tonight is supposed to be the final performance that wraps up the Heisman Trophy for Jameis Winston. Tonight is supposed to be the last chapter in Florida State’s ACC dominance in the 2013 season. And tonight is supposed to be the final step that sends the Seminoles to the national championship game, where they’ll be favored no matter who they play.
For Duke, there’s nothing to lose. No one thought they’d be here anyway. There’s no reason to feel pressure or play tight. All of the pressure and expectations are on the Florida State sidelines.
And without any pressure, there’s a chance the Blue Devils can follow in Kansas State’s footsteps and do the unthinkable.
After all, it’s been done before.