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Duke Plays For ACC Title Saturday Night

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DeVon Edwards could be a major factor for Duke in the ACC Championship
DeVon Edwards could be a major factor for Duke in the ACC Championship
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Well the big day is here, and by the end of the evening the ACC Championship will be decided and for the first time ever, Duke will be there.

Over the course of the week, like a lot of you, we've read a number of articles about the football team as a whole and as individuals. In a lot of ways, the best we've read was this piece from Nicole Auerbach of USA Today.

David Cutcliffe is a very methodical man with an eye for detail. What we really like is he doesn't wait for someone else: at one point early in his Duke career, Cutcliffe went out to the practice field and picked up all the empty Gatorade bottles he could find. Then he hired a truck and had some rusted old sleds hauled away.

It was all part of a bigger plan: look at the things which might turn a recruit off, fix those, and go after better recruits.

Needless to say, it has worked for Cutcliffe & co, culminating in the ACC championship.

Of course, on the other end of the field will be the mighty Seminoles, riding an undefeated season and a shot at a national championship. FSU has perhaps the best quarterback in the nation in Jameis Winston and tremendous momentum.

So Duke has no chance, right? Right? Well...about that.

There's no point in competing if you assume the outcome can't go your way. Why bother? We're not going to try to taunt Magnus Carlsen into a chess match. Pointless nihilistic behavior? We'll kick his butt. Chess? He'll beat us in three moves.

Why bother?

The margin in this game is not as challenging as that. Florida State is favored by 29 and if it were a 50 point game, Duke's record (until recently) of futility would to a large extent, for many, cushion the blow. The curse of low expectations and all that.

But it's not that Duke football program anymore. This is a team with a lot of character and fight. As Coach K said on Adam Gold's show this week, this is a group of winners and that goes a long way.

He also said something else pretty interesting and smart, that a couple of turnovers can completely change a football game and generate a lot of game pressure.

Something to keep in mind. You might also file this away. It's pretty well known that Winston is near sighted and how he actually manages to pass so well without corrective lenses is an honest to God mystery. He must have learned a different way of seeing, something maybe anticipatory in a very unusual way. Have you ever heard of the blind kid in California who learned to get around by using echolocation? It's a phenomenal, probably unprecedented (and therefore self-taught) achievement.

Totally blind but plays basketball, skatesboard, lives like any other kid.

Maybe Winston has some secret like that with vision, where he's learned to track colors and patterns differently.

Whatever he's doing, he better keep an eye on DeVon Edwards, who has proven to be a brilliant defender and pick man. He could hurt Florida State as he's hurt other teams.

Duke also has game pressure on its side because for Duke, there's almost none. Expectations are low. For FSU, if the game stays close, the pressure is squarely upon them. Can you imagine losing an undefeated season and a potential national championship because of a loss to Duke? Florida State's kids swear they're taking Duke seriously, but somehow, we don't think they are, not really. And who can blame them? They're Florida State, a swaggering goliath of a team. Why should anyone worry about Duke?

Well, we'll see. It wouldn't be the first time that a team took someone lightly and regretted it.

There is another wild card however, and if it favors anyone, it favors Duke. That of course would be the rough weather rolling in from the Southwest.

By Saturday afternoon the weather in Charlotte will start getting colder. It's hard to say how cold it will be by gametime, but it might be a bit outside of FSU's comfort level. Hardly Lambeau Field, but still an advantage for Duke.

And really, whatever happens, as Krzyzewski said, Duke will put winners on the field. They'll compete to the best of their ability and have already given Duke fans so much to be proud of. We'll be proud of them again Saturday.