Devils and Wave Eye WInning Streaks

Duke and Tulane both enter Saturday's game looking to continue the momentum

DURHAM, N.C. — Neither Tulane nor Duke is all that used to success lately. One of them will leave Saturday's game with a rare prize — a winning streak.

The Blue Devils (1-2) look to win two in a row for the first time since the middle of last season when they take on a Green Wave team that is chasing its first winning streak in two years.

Last week's victory at Boston College means "a small weight is off of our shoulders," Duke defensive end Kenny Anunike said.

"But we're not where we need to be," he added. "Yes, it was a win. Yes, we're ecstatic, we're happy, but we're playing one-week seasons right now, so we need to show we can do this consistently."

That's been a problem for a Duke program that has sputtered for the better part of two decades. The Blue Devils had winning streaks of two in 2008, three in 2009 and two last year. But before that, they hadn't strung together consecutive victories since 2003.

And for a team that entered this season believing this was the year they'd snap the longest active postseason drought in the Bowl Subdivision — no bowls since 1994 — the players know they can't afford any more slip-ups against two manageable nonconference games against Tulane and Florida International.

"Every game's a must-win," Duke linebacker Kelby Brown said. "I don't know how else to say it. Right now, Tulane's a must-win, and then, when this week's over, next week against FIU is going to be a must-win, too."

The Green Wave (2-1) is in the same situation, hoping to build on the most lopsided Conference USA victory in program history — a 49-10 romp at UAB — by beating a power-conference school for the second straight year after winning at Rutgers last year. Tulane hasn't won consecutive games since October 2009, and hasn't won two in a row against Bowl Subdivision teams since September 2008.

"That's what I'm talking about when I say maturity. We now have to put together games back to back," Tulane coach Bob Toledo said. "We can't just win, pat ourselves on the back, say, 'Oh, that was great,' and then go lose the next one. ... We've got to continue to improve."

The game is homecoming on Duke's campus — and it marks a homecoming for a former Blue Devil who's one of Tulane's most important players.

Linebacker Trent Mackey is tied for sixth in the nation with 35 tackles. He originally enrolled at Duke and played one season before being kicked off the team in February 2009 for violating unspecified team standards and wound up at Tulane.

Mackey, a Louisiana native, will be one of the Green Wave's captains this week, Toledo said.

"I wish we could have got him originally," Toledo said. "When he did transfer, I talked to (Duke coach) David Cutcliffe and he said, 'You're getting a heck of a player. He's got a great nose for the football.' We knew that, and we're just really pleased that he came back home and is playing for us."

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