College Football: Top 25 preview
WINSTON-SALEM ó The Duke-Wake Forest game has some significance again ó and it isn’t even basketball season yet.
The private Tobacco Road rivals with modest football histories play every year, but the meeting hasn’t meant this much in more than a generation. For the first time since 1971, both the Demon Deacons and Blue Devils enter with winning records.
It’s especially meaningful for perennially struggling Duke, which has watched with envy over the past few seasons as Wake Forest rose from worst to first in the ACC. The Blue Devils can think of no better way to continue their climb under new coach David Cutcliffe than by knocking off the program whose success they’re striving to emulate.
Wake Forest tailback Josh Adams, who grew up in the Raleigh suburbs a short drive from Duke’s campus in Durham, took notice of the growing attention to the Blue Devils’ football program during a recent trip home.
“I’ve never seen that amount of people wearing Duke clothing,” Adams said. “Just like when Wake started winning.”
Indeed, the Blue Devils (4-3, 1-2 ACC) have shown signs that they’re capable of turning things around under Cutcliffe. They’ve already won as many games as they have during their four previous seasons combined, and their 10-7 victory at Vanderbilt last week resuscitated their hopes for the program’s first bowl berth since 1994.
“I was asked about the season’s start, and I said this team would be defined in November, and no doubt that’s where the definition comes,” Cutcliffe said. “Whether it’s the opportunity to play in a bowl game or just to scratch out a victory, you don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Before the Deacons could prepare for the Blue Devils, they had to take care of themselves.
Wake Forest (4-3, 2-2) has lost two straight and three of four to drop from the Atlantic Division, prompting the team to hold a closed-door midweek meeting.
“It helped me build my confidence ó I think at one point everybody, when things aren’t going right as they would like, they kind of just start thinking to themselves, ‘What am I not doing right? What can I do better?”‘ Adams said. “Just to hear that same mindset coming from a group of seniors that have been in the program for quite a bit now, it was great to hear.”
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