Duke's chances of reaching a bowl for the first time since 1994 took a serious hit this past Saturday.
The Blue Devils 19-6 loss to rival North Carolina showed both how far they have come and how far they still have to go.
Leading up to the game there was a lot of talk about Duke playing for bowl eligibility and a possible shot at the ACC Coastal Division title.
Even some ESPN analyst's had picked Duke to go bowling.
After that loss the noise surrounding Blue Devil Football has died down and most have written the season off as a success, but one that is for all intense purposes over.
Having seen or listened to every Duke game this season, it is very clear that this is not the same team that has been the laughing stock of college football for decades.
The Blue Devils are playing for more than just the occasionally bowl berth. Coach David Cutcliffe has seen to that.
Duke is clearly a respected football team and while they very well may not become bowl eligible this season they certainly will go out fighting for a spot.
Up this week is Georgia Tech.
The Yellow Jackets are clearly the cream of the ACC this season. And despite all the criticisms of Coach Paul Johnson's triple option offense, the Jackets are one hiccup away from being in the National Title discussion.
Duke's offense sputtered last Saturday against the relentless pressure of the Tar Heel's defense and never could generate more than two field goals.
They should expect similar if not quite as good a defense this week.
However, against North Carolina Duke's defense did show its worth for most of the game keeping North Carolina out of the end zone until late in the game.
When the Blue Devils take the field this Saturday they will be facing a much more precise offensive scheme from Georgia Tech.
Sure Duke has faced an option offense this season in Army, but not one with the caliber of athletes the Yellow Jackets have.
Don't expect that to deter Cutcliffe. He is preparing his player to win this game.
He knows that Duke's hopes of turning a successful year into a potentially ground breaking year depend on these next three games.
One more win and Duke can finish the season at .500 overall and in conference play and with most of the team being very young you can expect more good things from Duke Football in the future.
Two more wins and Duke finishes with a winning record and a potential bowl appearance.
So the future of Duke Football starts in earnest this week as they prepare to take on Georgia Tech.
When Duke takes the field they won't just be playing for bowl eligibility, or respectability they will be playing to win, not something Duke Football is used to especially against a Top 10 team.
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