This Saturday, Duke takes on Florida State in what should be the finale for both squads, as both have bad records to show for uncharacteristically down seasons. While there are no record requirements for bowls this year, the ACC has lost four tie-ins so bowl are unlikely to resort to the 2-8 Blue Devils or 2-6 Seminoles.
With Florida State in a down year, this may be one of Duke’s best chances to gain their first win in the series. A look at the history of this series shows that a win this Saturday shows how far David Cutcliffe has taken this program in the span of 13 seasons.
Currently, Florida State leads the series 18-0, with all games coming after the Seminoles’ arrival to the ACC in 1992. While lopsided series like Notre Dame against the service academies, and Florida-Kentucky, are nothing new, there is hardly one as lopsided as this one. In these 18 meetings, the average outcome is a 48-14 Florida State win. The Seminoles have exceed 50 points in 10 out of the 18 games, and have only failed to score at least 45 points three times.
Before Duke’s seven-point loss in 2017, the closest margin of defeat for the Blue Devils was a 19-point loss in 2007. Before Duke’s 2017 loss, the closest calls were in 2004 and 2007, if you can call them that.
In 2004, a Duke team that finished 2-9 played the 9-win Seminoles to a 9-7 game at halftime, powered by a one-yard Cedric Dargan touchdown run. However, in the second half, the Seminoles broke the game open, winning 29-7. Three years later, a one-win Duke squad kept the Seminoles close, trailing only 9-0 at halftime, before ultimately falling 25-6 at halftime.
To date, the aforementioned 2017 game remains the closest. Not even their matchup in the 2013 ACC title game was as close, as the Blue Devils lost that one 45-7. In 2017, the Blue Devils and Seminoles were tied at 10 after three quarters, until Cam Akers’ 42-yard run clinched a 17-10 victory for the Seminoles.
In 18 games, only one single-score game. Many crazy things have happened in 2020, we all know that, but a Duke win, especially a dominant one, may be the most surprising of all. Yet, Duke, despite their 2-6 record, may have their most realistic shot for a while. With Florida State in the midst of chaos within their program, and having not played since November 14th, the perfect storm seems to be in store.
Additionally, with both teams in separate divisions, who knows when Duke gets another chance at Florida State after this game. So, while this weekend’s slate may have several pivotal games, like the Army-Navy game and North Carolina-Miami, Florida State-Duke has its own level of importance as history is on the line.