Duke suffered a third straight defeat on Saturday, losing to Pittsburgh by a 31-13 margin to close out the seasons’s slate of home games at Wallace Wade Stadium.
Without starting quarterback Thomas Sirk the already suspect Blue Devil offense was held to just 78 total yards after halftime as the Panthers blew open what had been a tightly contested game up until intermission.
However, things unraveled quickly for Duke in the second half as Pittsburgh sent Duke to a third straight loss - the longest losing streak since 2012.
"No reason to sugarcoat it: (In the) second half, we didn't represent any part of who we want to be," said Duke coach David Cutcliffe. "We got out-blocked, out-tackled, outhit. Their playmakers made critical plays at critical times. We didn't."
Following his team’s loss to Miami in which the conference later admitted the officials’ mistakes had resulted in the wrong team winning, Cutcliffe had made a point of focusing on the next game.
But that focus either hasn’t been shared by his team or, worse, Duke has been exposed in losses to the Hurricanes, North Carolina, and now Pittsburgh. In those three games the once highly ranked and thought of Blue Devil defense has allowed opponents to light up the scoreboard for more than 540 yards of total offense and 42 points per game.
"Are we fragile? Quite possibly," Cutcliffe said. "We have to be stronger than that. I'm not denying that. That enters my mind, but then I challenge myself, why haven't I equipped us better than that.
With the loss Duke now stands at 6-4 on the season and 3-3 in ACC play.