Duke Needs To Learn from Pitfalls of Bye Weeks Past

Mike KlineAnalyst IOctober 12, 2009

DURHAM, NC - OCTOBER 18:  Head coach David Cutcliffe of the Duke Blue Devils watches the action during the game against the Miami Hurricanes at Wallace Wade Stadium on October 18, 2008 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Most college teams welcome a bye week.

Duke is no exception, and in most years, it has been a welcome break from the embarrassment of yet another loss.

But this isn't most years. There is definitely something a bit different about this year's group of Blue Devils—they actually have momentum heading into the open week.

Following their impressive defeat of conference rival NC State Saturday, Duke and its fans are riding high.

After the game Coach David Cutcliffe was asked if he wished this week wasn't a bye week. The announcer alluded to the momentum Duke had mustered in the last two weeks as motivation to continue playing while the team was doing well.

Cutcliffe didn't think too long and hard over it before admitting the bye week will provide Duke with some much needed time to rest, recuperate, and get better.

Standard coach-speak to paint a picture of the improvements that are to come in the off week.

But if you look historically at how Duke has fared coming in after bye weeks it isn't such a pretty picture.

Since 2000, Duke has lost every single game coming off a bye week. Even as bad as Duke has been you'd figure that somewhere in the handful of wins during that time they would have won at least one game coming off the break.

That bleak note is another in the long list of things Duke Football is fighting toward improving on in the second year of Cutcliffe's reign.

If Duke can carry their current momentum through the bye and into next week's opponent Maryland, then one more accomplishment can get crossed of that list.

Duke not only is playing against its current schedule it is playing against the ghosts and demons that have haunted the Blue Devils for seemingly the last three plus decades.

Cutcliffe has had to battle a loosing tradition, a fan base that doesn't believe, and overcome significant deficits in talent and facilities.

Saturday's win goes a little ways toward helping at least the loosing tradition and fan belief, but will be short lived if Duke comes out flat and looses to Maryland following the bye week.

The Blue Devils need a winning streak in conference play to hang their hat on and continue building toward a potential bowl appearance. And that is something that just seems a little more likely than it did a couple weeks ago.

So, if Duke can exercise their bye week demons, they may be able to pave a path toward postseason play for the first time since 1994.