Duke vs. Wake: For The Blue Devils, It’s Been “Oh, So Close”

Duke senior center Brian Moore summed up the Wake Forest rivalry in one word: “Heartbreak.”

The last time Duke (3-1, 0-0) beat Wake Forest (3-1, 1-0), Jim Caldwell was Wake’s head coach and Duke was led by first-year man Carl Franks. Duke would lose its next game at North Carolina, which began a 23-game losing streak that spanned three seasons.

Wake Forest has won 12 in a row against Duke dating back to 1999. From 2000-07, Duke would win nine games total. Since Jim Grobe was hired in 2001, Wake Forest has won the ACC once (in 2006) and knocked off some of the league’s big boys plenty of times. Grobe’s Deacons have done the kinds of things it seems Duke has been on the cusp of doing under head coach David Cutcliffe.

“They’ve been able to develop an identity of taking care of the football, playing well in big games, being consistently competitive. They have developed an identity, which is what the development process is here (at Duke),” Cutcliffe said. “I hope that identity is starting to show itself here in hopefully the consistency of some of the things we’re doing.

“I think our program at times has gotten ahead of the team, if that makes sense. I feel very comfortable where our program is, how our guys go about their business in the weight room, off-season, at the practice level. And I think Wake has done that now for a period of time and kind of begets itself. That’s the most impressive thing they’ve done – they’ve built a program.”

Cutcliffe has never shied away from history with his team, good or bad. When it comes to the Wake Forest game, there’s plenty of bad history there. But a lot of the guys on this team right now have lived it. The biggest Wake Forest margin of victory in the last six seasons has been 11 points; three of the games have been decided by three points or less and five by a score or less.

“Heartbreak,” Duke center Brian Moore said. “We’ve come so close, and it’s not lack of want-to or anything like that. It’s just going out there and getting it done. That’s what we need to do.”

“We’re aware of it. It’s something that we hold in the back of our minds. We don’t want to always be like, ‘Oh, whatever.’ They beat you 12 times for a reason,” defensive end Dezmond Johnson said. “Our mentality now is to change that and not keep adding to it. Get better. You want to get better every game you play, so we want to take this game and use this time to get better.”

Cornerback Ross Cockrell was the only one who didn’t seem to know about the 12-game winning streak. “Okay…well,” he said. “It’s about time for us to get one. I’ll say that. Twelve straight, that’s…our time should be coming up soon, so.”

Cutcliffe has always said that Duke can’t talk itself into being a good football team. The same applies this weekend, when this game could very well come down to the end as it has so often. Wake Forest has always had more playmakers than Duke has had. To take the next step as a program, Duke has to scale the mental Wake Forest wall that stands in front of them.

“That’s been the most obvious thing, just: oh, so close,” Cutcliffe said. “You have to give credit to their playmakers for making critical plays late in a game. …. They take care of the football. they play the kicking game well. They do a lot of the little things right and they’ve done that for quite some time. That will win a lot of games for you and they’ve obviously done that better than we’ve done it to this point.”

Duke-Wake Randomness: David Glenn Show producer Hayes Permar put together this awesome (and hilarious) video tribute to Wake Forest wide receiver Michael Campanaro.

Former Duke kicker Will Snyderwine made an instructional YouTube video posted this summer called “Kickin’ It”. Duke fans, this is presented without comment. But I checked the date multiple times to be sure.

This is two years old, but searching for Duke football videos, I came across this guide to being a Duke football fan from 2010.

A very, very tongue-in-cheek look at the diversity on Wake Forest’s campus. (Some NSFW topics/language.)

Prediction: Duke, 34-27. Call it a hunch. As Ross Cockrell said, 12 in a row is a lot, and Duke seems due. The Blue Devils are as strong of a program as they have been since Cutcliffe’s arrival, and this would be an enormous win for them going forward. Getting Wake early should help, too (since 2005, Duke has played Wake in the first half of their schedule before attrition has hit just once). But Duke can’t make the types of mistakes that cause even big-name programs to drive away from Winston-Salem wondering how they could have lost that game.

Last week: 8-1 (1-1 ACC)

Season: 26-4 (2-2 ACC)

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