Duke looks to avoid another Wake Forest loss

The Demon Deacons have won 12 straight games in the series, though most of those games have been extremely close.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — The result is the same every time Duke and Wake Forest play: the Demon Deacons always find a way to win.

It doesn't matter how good — or how bad — both teams are. The last 12 matchups have gone to Wake Forest, the longest winning streak against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent in school history.

Through the years, the Demon Deacons have differed only on how they get it done.

They've blocked a field goal. They've thrown a late touchdown pass. They've forced a missed field goal at the buzzer. They've picked off a pass in the end zone in overtime.

"I don't know how there's a streak going on because we've had so many games that have literally just been ... just crazy stuff," coach Jim Grobe — who's 11-0 against Duke — said Tuesday.

Of course, Wake Forest (3-1, 1-1) wants to keep it rolling. For the Blue Devils (3-1, 0-0), however, the situation is more pressing because their brutal October schedule means they probably have to beat the Demon Deacons if they're going to end the nation's longest bowl drought.

It's "never fun to be on the bad end of a streak," Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. "I think that should motivate most people, naturally, but to do something about that, you've got to play well currently. We can't do anything about the previous 12."

Except, of course, to learn from them so they can keep it from happening again.

Duke is certainly no stranger to long losing streaks — the Blue Devils have lost 17 straight to Florida State and 11 in a row to Virginia Tech — but repeatedly coming up short against a school that's so close, both geographically and in terms of academic profile, is tougher to take. Eight of Duke's losses in the series have come by a touchdown or less.

There's even more in common this year. Both are 3-0 at home and their only losses came in lopsided fashion on the road against top-10 teams, with No. 8 Stanford routing Duke a week before No. 4 Florida State hammered the Demon Deacons.

"With a team that just beats you and beats you and keeps beating you, but it's been close, and you haven't come out on top, it's more motivation and fuel that you use to push you through that game and get a win," Duke defensive end Dezmond Johnson said.

Maybe, but motivation doesn't seem to be the main problem for the Blue Devils. In a series that dates to 1889, Duke holds a 53-37-2 edge but hasn't won since 1999.

That's because the Demon Deacons simply seem to always have someone who can make a play when it counts.

Like Chip Vaughn, who blocked Duke's game-winning kick with his elbow to preserve a 14-13 win in 2006.

Or Alphonso Smith, who intercepted Thad Lewis' pass in the end zone in OT two years later to seal a 33-30 win — after Duke's Nick Maggio missed a 41-yard field goal at the end of regulation.

Or Chris Givens, who last year turned a short pass from Tanner Price into a 66-yard catch-and-run score that was the difference in a 24-23 victory.

"When we look at the streak, we say, 'Well, you know, yeah, we beat them 12 times but out of those 12, what, 10 have been down to the last minute?'" Wake Forest nose guard Nikita Whitlock said. "'How can we change that? How can we get away from those last-minute wins?' It's less of looking at the wins and more of looking at how we won and trying to better those wins."

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