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Devils Dominate Orange Late, Win 27-10

Duke has become a second-half team.

SYRACUSE, NY - NOVEMBER 08: Jamison Crowder #3 of the Duke Blue Devils celebrates a touchdown punt reception against the Syracuse Orange on November 8, 2014 at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York. Duke defeats Syracuse 27-10.
SYRACUSE, NY - NOVEMBER 08: Jamison Crowder #3 of the Duke Blue Devils celebrates a touchdown punt reception against the Syracuse Orange on November 8, 2014 at The Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York. Duke defeats Syracuse 27-10.
Brett Carlsen

After the final whistle, after Duke's five-and-half-minute fourth quarter run put the contest out of reach of a game Syracuse team (at least until Duke ran off 17 points anyway) Syracuse coach Scott Shafer went into the media room and broke the podium.

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Although he was more overtly angered by a stupid question than men's basketball coach Jim Boeheim would be - he would respond with biting sarcasm - Shafer's frustration can be understood.

This was a winnable game for Syracuse, and deep into the game too. But Duke's explosion put it firmly out of reach.

The score was tied 10-10 with 12:45 left in the 4th when Syracuse, pressed deep in its own territory, punted. Jamison Crowder caught it, ran it back 52 yards for the touchdown, and everything fell apart for the Orange.

Not long after that - about two minutes later - Ross Martin tacked on a field goal for a 10 point lead. And about two minutes after that, Anthony Boone hit Isaac Blakeney for another long score, a 54 yard pass, and that was that. Syracuse was not coming back from 17 down with just over 7:00 minutes left.

Not many teams could, but realistically, there was no chance for Syracuse to do it. Down two quarterbacks, with significant O-line injuries and a serious raft of injuries overall (almost all listed simply as lower body injuries, by the way), the odds of a stunning comeback were very, very slim.

For Duke, it's more good news: the Blue Devils are 8-1, still in first place in the ACC's Coastal Division, and a game ahead of Miami and Georgia Tech, and with a bit of head room, too. Having beat Tech, Duke would survive a tie-breaker; Miami still has FSU to go, followed by Virginia on the road and Pitt at home.

Georgia Tech finishes ACC play with Clemson on the 15th.  The Tigers should be favored, but in recent weeks, BC, Syracuse and Wake Forest gave the furry felines fits. Clemson is fortunate to be 7-2.

But if Clemson and Florida State win as favorites, then both teams have three losses.

Duke has Virginia Tech, UNC and Wake Forest remaining. It's reasonable to think that Duke will beat Wake, since Wake is struggling through a transition year, and it's certainly possible that the Devils could beat both the Hokies and the Heels.

Not easy certainly, but possible. But if the Devils win one, it's going to be really hard to lose the division.

Incidentally, Anthony Boone, who has been criticized a certain amount this season, is now 18-1 as a starter. That's remarkable for anywhere but at Duke? Astounding.

Also pretty remarkable, given the epic trudge of football futility Duke was on until recently: the absolute worst this team can finish the regular season is 8-4, which would be disappointing, but solid. And it has a chance to put together another season which might be as remarkable as last year's and more so in one way: Duke lost a lot from that team between graduation and injuries. To be 8-1 and close to a second divisional title is testament to the program that Cutcliffe has built in Durham.