With about 90 seconds left, and Duke is inside Cincinnati’s 5 yard line. Sean Renfree was carving up the Bearcats’s defense like holiday ham. The Blue Devils were either going to be a minute away from their first bowl victory with a FG point lead or a TD lead, but wow they fumbled for the 2nd time inside the 5 yard line.
On the one hand Duke and David Cutcliffe should be praised for getting to a the Blue Devils to a bowl game for the first time since 1994, but moral victories can only take you so far. Duke had an opportunity to win this game even as an underdog, but they choked it away to be brutally honest. I’m sure head coach David Cutcliffe will tell you the same. They let the game and a remarkable victory get away. It was setback and a tough loss, but Duke is going to take the next step right?
The easy answer is yes. I’m not so sure. Defiantly Duke is not going back to the 2-10, 1-11 type seasons. The school has committed to making football facility upgrades, and David Cutcliffe is a really good coach, but this may the weakest group of ACC teams 3-12 in recent memory. Virginia Tech will be better. Miami and UNC will also be improved. FSU Clemson aren’t going anywhere and Louisville will immediately be an upper echelon ACC team when they join. Even new comers Pittsburgh and Syracuse look like credible football teams.
Duke had a senior QB Sean Renfree and may have caught lighting in a bottle this year. Do I think Duke will go nearly 20 years before going to another bowl? No, but as much as I like Cutcliffe and his coaching ability, I don’t see bowl games becoming a yearly event for Duke, but they will continue to be a tough out as long as he’s there.
As far as conference implications of course the ACC teams get lumped to together with these type losses fair or not, and a win would have been nice, but if the ACC is hanging their hat on whether Duke wins its bowl game then there are other issues going on. It’s pretty simple, Clemson you don’t want to be associated with Duke football beat LSU. Virginia Tech don’t fall to 6-7 and Florida State certainly don’t lose the Orange Bowl to Northern Illinois. Each ACC team controls its own bowl destiny…