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Previewing the Opponent: Duke Blue Devils

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Duke Blue Devils
Record: 10-2 (6-2 ACC)
Head Coach: David Cutcliffe
All-Time: FSU Leads 18-0

Overview: Be honest, not many people outside of Durham gave Duke much of a chance to be in Charlotte playing for an ACC title. The Blue Devils have been on the rise in the past few years under head coach David Cutcliffe, but few expected Duke to end their season 10-2 with a chance to play for a conference championship.

"Duke has done one heck of a job this year," said Jimbo Fisher. "Very fun to watch on film. Extremely well coached and played extremely hard and make plays, and David has done a tremendous job there and we know we're going to have to play our "A" game to be able to compete with them and play with them, but our kids are looking forward to it."

Duke doesn't blow you away when you glance at the stat sheet. They're 53rd in rushing offense, 55th in passing offense. They win their games by an average score of 34-23. 

But they're gritty. And they're accutely aware that nobody is giving them a shot on Saturday. 

That could make them dangerous.

"As long as it's not the people on our team predicting that [we'll be fine]," said Cutcliffe. "That's the key to that, and I don't think any of our guys are putting us down as 29-point underdogs.

"We have smart guys, as you might imagine, and they're very aware of the challenge. What they see is the quality of the team on tape. It's not unrealistic to say that we've got to play
extremely well. The week started off on Sunday with me telling them the truth. I had seen a lot of Florida State by then. I told them the obvious, but I also told them now the only thing we can do is the quality of our preparation has to match what the quality of our play needs to be to compete with a team of this magnitude.

"They've done all year what we've asked them to do. I thought our preparation each day
this week was special. Hopefully we can follow that up with playing at a high level."

How FSU Stacks Up: Florida State has the edge when it comes to talent. There's really not much debating over that, either.

The biggest obstacle facing Florida State may just be complacency. FSU hasn't faltered as a result of the Jameis Winston situation yet, but now that it has been more or less resolved will there be a let up? In years past FSU has played down to competition. That has yet to happen this year though, and Duke would be wise not to expect it on Saturday.

Offensively the Seminoles will test the Blue Devils unlike any other team they have faced this year. Duke skipped Clemson in ACC scheduling this year and aside from Georgia Tech -- who runs a dramatically different offense than FSU -- there wasn't a whole lot of offensive firepower on the Duke schedule. 

Defensively for FSU, Duke uses two quarterbacks -- and does it effectively -- which is something Florida State has really not encountered this year. The Blue Devils can run from the QB position or throw it. Unfortunately, FSU has the better players when the units match up and by the end of the night that will likely be more impactful than Duke's ability to keep the Seminoles on their toes. 

Three Players to Watch:

1.) Jamison Crowder, WR -- Duke's most dynamic weapon has 88 receptions and 1131 yards.

2.) Brandon Connette, QB -- The more mobile of Duke's two QB's has accounted for 26 touchdowns this year.

3.) Anthony Boone, QB -- For Duke to win, Boone likely needs to have a big day throwing the ball.

Quote of the Week: “It’s the same preparation. It’s the first championship (goal) that we set as a team goal that we have to accomplish. We accomplished our regular season goal of being undefeated and becoming state champions, now it’s time to become conference champions and then, Lord willing, the big one on top.” 

-Jameis Winston

 

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