Duke Football Finding Success, Now Must Avoid Setbacks

Mike KlineAnalyst INovember 3, 2009

DURHAM, NC - SEPTEMBER 13:  Duke Blue Devils fans cheer during the game against the Navy Midshipmen at Wallace Wade Stadium on September 13, 2008 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

There is a lot of positive buzz surrounding Duke Football these days.

And really there should be. The team is sporting a winning record and the second-best record in the ACC.

Two ESPN analysts have predicted Duke to be bowl bound.

The Blue Devils even managed to get three votes in the ESPN/USA Today Top-25 Coaches Poll.

So, obviously, some people are beginning to take notice of the program. ESPN even changed its schedules to televise the Duke-UNC matchup on ESPNU this Saturday.

Though there are obvious problems and pitfalls once a team starts to win.

Whether it is the weight of new-found expectations or complacency setting in among players, something typically comes up to rock the boat.

Duke will have to avoid those things if they hope to reach what, at one time, seemed like improbable and unreasonable goals.

But this year at least, Duke has avoided the things that "typical" Duke teams have been unable to do, so perhaps that is a good sign.

Vegas odds makers predicted the Blue Devils would only win three games. They've already surpassed that at 5-3, 3-1 in the conference.

Now heading into this week Duke will square off with its archrival UNC, in what will be a meaningful game between the two for the first time since 1994.

Both teams need two wins to qualify for bowl eligibility. Both teams realize the implications of this rivalry game.

That is where the similarities between the two teams end.

The Tar Heels had high expectations heading into the season but haven't lived up to them yet. They are, however, coming off a huge upset of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

Carolina is known for its defense, Duke is known for its passing offense.

On paper this shouldn't be much of a contest, but when these two rivals meet they usually produce close games. Although the Tar Heels have won the majority of them.

Duke is once again the underdog heading into a conference game on the road. I don't expect complacency to set in with David Cutcliffe as coach, but the Tar Heels are riding high and have a lot of talent.

The Blue Devils will have to play their absolute best and hope they can avoid the pitfalls of success to keep their streak alive.

After all, they may be winning games now, but they haven't won anything yet.