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Barry Jacobs On Football Futility In November

Duke football is assured a non-losing regular season for the first time since 1994. This Saturday's home game against Miami will determine whether the Blue Devils finish their scheduled contests with a winning record, also for the first time since 1994.

Regardless of what happens against the Hurricanes, the Devils are likely to get a bowl bid in an affirmation of progress made under David Cutcliffe.

Then again, the ACC has affiliations with nine bowls and at least three of its teams - Boston College, Maryland, and Virginia - are certain to have losing records when they conclude play in 2012. That means they're staying home during bowl season.

Additionally, Miami has chosen to take itself out of the bowl picture for the second straight season in an attempt to ameliorate a pending NCAA punishment. North Carolina already is on probation and not going to a bowl.

Things could get worse for the ACC.

Wake Forest, 5-6 and hosting Vanderbilt to close out the season, could make it four ACC teams with more losses than wins. The Commodores, 7-4, just clinched their first winning regular season in three decades by triumphing over archrival Tennessee, which immediately fired coach Derek Dooley.

Less likely, 5-6 Virginia Tech could fall at home against Virginia, ending its streak of 19 straight non-losing seasons and 19 consecutive bowl appearances.

If all those scenarios come to pass, the ACC would have just five teams eligible to compete in bowls, an apt ending to another wallow in mediocrity.

All four teams Duke faced most recently would have qualified to go to bowls based solely on their records - North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson, and Georgia Tech. Miami could have been the fifth.

Ending seasons on a downward slide has been a problem in David Cutcliffe's five seasons at Durham, arguably a final major hurdle to becoming a truly competitive program.

The meeting with Miami will be the 20th November contest for the Devils since Cutcliffe arrived in 2008. So far they are 1-18 in those outings. All but three of the opponents that beat them went on to bowl appearances.

That's the same number of November victories achieved during Ted Roof's generally feckless four seasons at the helm (2004-2007), in which Duke won just four games overall. During Carl Franks' five seasons as head coach (1999-2003), the Blue Devils had nine wins. Three came in November.

Cutcliffe's sole November victory came on November 6, 2010, a 55-48 conquest of Virginia.

Otherwise, including defeats this month at the hands of Clemson and Georgia Tech, Duke has lost its other 18 November games under Cutcliffe by an average margin of 15.5 points. This year the margin has been 27. Last year it was 17.0 points.

Duke Record In Final Month Of Last Five Football Seasons

Year W-L Opponent Score
2012 0-2 Clemson$ 20-56
Georgia Tech$ 24-42
2011 0-4 Miami 14-49
Virginia* 21-31
Georgia Tech* 31-38
North Carolina* 21-37
2010 1-3 Virginia 55-48
Boston College* 16-21
Georgia Tech* 20-30
North Carolina* 19-24
2009 0-4 North Carolina* 6-19
Georgia Tech* 10-49
Miami* 16-34
Wake Forest 34-45
2008 0-5 Wake Forest* 30-33
N.C. State* 17-27
Clemson* 7-31
Virginia Tech* 3-14
North Carolina* 20-28
$ Bowl eligible.
* Participated in bowl.