Interesting Challenge: Duke To Host Defending Champs Alabama Next Season

Mike KlineAnalyst IJanuary 11, 2010

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07:  Head coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates with the BCS Championship trophy after winning the Citi BCS National Championship game over the Texas Longhorns at the Rose Bowl on January 7, 2010 in Pasadena, California. The Crimson Tide defeated the Longhorns 37-21.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Duke University is not unfamiliar with hosting a defending National Champion in Durham.

Of course, the shape of the ball is usually a bit different and the game is played at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

In 2010, the Duke Football team, yes, they have a football team at Duke, will host Alabama and Mark Ingram.

Blue Devil coach David Cutcliffe was excited when the announcement came that his team would be playing his alma mater at Wallace Wade. And while I'm sure he is even more excited now that the Crimson Tide are National Champs, it has to be a bit nerve racking.

Trying to build fan confidence in his team has taking a lot longer than he would like. The team and the program are definitely better than when he took over, but attendance at home games is still lacking.

Cutcliffe has done a masterful job of recruiting better players and maximizing the skill his team has. But Duke is no where near the level of Alabama and despite playing the Tide close just a few short years ago, that was a very different Alabama team.

Duke is better than they were then, but so is the Tide and in a big way. Still, Duke can make a statement with this game.

There is a better likelihood that I will win the lottery twice than Duke will win this game, but it will be a good measuring stick to see how far the Blue Devils have come and how far they have to go.

I'm not expecting a competitive game, and I fully expect Wallace Wade to look more like Tuscaloosa North than Cameron Indoor Stadium. Still, if Duke can keep the game respectable, even close for a bit, it will be a huge confidence booster for the players and the fans.

Still, it will be nice to see that type of atmosphere back in old Wallace Wade. It has been a long time since a team the level of Alabama came strolling into Wallace Wade.

The Tide can expect a much different situation as the stadium seats less than 40,000 people and they will have to walk more than 100 yards to get to the visitor's locker room.

But anyone with any historical knowledge of college football knows Duke used to be in the whose who of college football. But that is a distant memory.

Can Duke get back to that point? I'm not sure. Can they be a competitive program? I think so, and when the National Champs coming marching on Durham it will be interesting to see what kind of Duke team will await them.