The ACC’s television contract dictated Duke play a Friday night home game this season, and it will happen at home this week against Miami.
Duke coach David Cutcliffe is already dutifully preparing his undefeated Blue Devils, and he’s hopeful for a big crowd for the matchup against the No. 14 Hurricanes.
But that doesn’t mean he’s happy about it.
“I don’t like the fact that Friday night football exists because it should be for high schools,” Cutcliffe said. “I apologize to all of the high school programs. But if we are going to do it and do it contractually, we need to do it right.”
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Last season, Duke played a Friday night game on the road, a 24-14 loss at Louisville.
ESPN requires ACC teams to play Friday night games to fill its television schedule. Already this season, Boston College won at Northern Illinois and Syracuse beat Central Connecticut State on Sept. 1 (a Friday night) in nonconference play.
Virginia played and won last Friday night at Boise State.
Duke and Miami will be the first league game on a Friday night this season. Two more Friday night ACC games are set for next month: Clemson at Syracuse on Oct. 13 and Florida State at Boston College on Oct. 27.
In Duke’s case, it helps that three large Durham high schools aren’t playing Friday night.
Jordan and Hillside have open weeks with no games scheduled. Riverside plays on Thursday night at Cardinal Gibbons.
On the other hand, Duke’s hope for a good crowd is complicated because the game’s 7 p.m. kickoff coincides with the start of Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar.
Either way, the game will go on.
After winning 27-17 at rival North Carolina (1-3) this past Saturday, the Blue Devils (4-0) received enough votes in the Associated Press Top 25 to just miss being ranked. N.C. State (3-1), which won 27-21 at Florida State on Saturday, and Duke were the top two teams not to make the top 25.
A win over Miami would certainly vault Duke into the rankings for the first time since October 2015. It would also give Duke its first 5-0 start since 1994.
Duke’s student body showed support for the team after the win at UNC by greeting the team bus when it arrived back on campus. Cutcliffe is confident that will lead to a good turnout on Friday night against Miami.
“Our players enjoyed the heck out of it,” Cutcliffe said. “It was great. It was a great atmosphere. We let them off the bus and they kind of walked up the hill through all of the students. That’s a fun celebration. I’ve got a feeling this Friday night is going to be an incredible atmosphere.”