Devil in Disguise?

For many years, Duke football has been the butt of too many jokes to count. And even thought the Blue Devils have won only one game this year, it is very obvious the talent and is better and that moral victories aren't good enough anymore.

By all accounts, Duke should have won at least two ACC games last year, but shoddy placekicking prevented that from happening.

This season, the Blue Devils finally beat a Division I team, meaning the 2004 upset over Clemson is no longer their last one. Truth be told, they should probably have at least one more this year.

However, that 2004 victory over the Tigers is still Duke's last win in the ACC, but that's another stat the Blue Devils hope to erase in the final month of the season.

"Our fans have been so loyal – we want them to experience some good times and have reason to celebrate out here," Duke head coach Ted Roof said. "We're very appreciative of the fact that they've hung in there with us and stuck with us. We want to play well at home for our fans."

There was hope this year that the Blue Devils would win possibly two ACC games with all 11 starters returning on offense, including quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, who was one of the best freshman quarterbacks in the nation a year ago.

But things haven't gone as hoped. Of course, playing a schedule that is fourth hardest in the country does help matters.

"You look at the strength of our schedule, it's one of the top 10 toughest in the country," Roof said. "Part of that is because of what's happened with this league – this league has grown by leaps and bounds and come so far. Not just the quality of the football but also the physicalness of the play. This has turned into a very physical league. I know we've played some good teams, there's no question about that."

Things don't get any easier for the Blue Devils this week as No. 25 Clemson and an offense that has scored 100 points over its last two games comes rolling into Durham.

But keep in mind that oddly enough, the Tigers are just 13-12 all-time at Duke and haven't covered the point spread in forever. It's just been a difficult place for them to play.

"We're talking about perhaps the best backfield combination in America," Roof said of Clemson. "(James Davis and C.J. Spiller) both bring different things to the table, different styles. They put them in a lot of different places and get the ball to them a lot of different ways. It's quite a challenge to be able to try to slow that machine down a little bit because this football team is as talented as what we've played – very explosive in every phase. Just like the last two teams we've played."

It will take a Herculean effort by Duke and a lot of gaffs by the Tigers for an upset to happen. And while the odds of that happening aren't very good, the Blue Devils are dead set on getting an ACC victory this year.

"We're trying to win every game from here out," said sophomore nose guard Ayanga Okpokowuruk. "I know there's a lot of discouragement, especially people from the outside looking down on us. We never give up hope or faith in each other though. We still think we can win out and we still believe that we have that much talent. It's just a matter of going out there and doing it." Top Stories