As Duke aims to end its current two-game losing streak on Saturday it also battles a long and ugly history against Florida State.
The Blue Devils and Seminoles have played 19 football games, all since Florida State entered the ACC in 1992. Florida State has not only won all of them, but the Blue Devils have only come within 20 points once.
It really doesn’t matter that Duke (4-2, 1-2 ACC) enters Saturday’s game with four times as many wins as Florida State (1-3, 1-2 ) this season. The Blue Devils are a seven-point underdog and beating a team like the Seminoles would be a major program accomplishment.
“Any time you play a traditionally big-time winner,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said, “your players are very aware. You don’t have to remind them. They all know. They’ve all grown up in an era where Florida State is one of the best football teams in the country. They all watched Florida State win a national championship.”
In 2013, the last time Duke played Florida State, the Seminoles were about to claim that national title. The Blue Devils were a surprising 10-2 and the new Coastal Division champions when they faced the Seminoles in the ACC championship game at Charlotte.
Led by quarterback Jameis Winston, Florida State beat Duke, 45-7, before beating Auburn, 34-31, in the Rose Bowl.
Only one current Duke player, redshirt senior cornerback Bryon Fields, has faced Florida State. He was a freshman in 2013.
The last time Duke and Florida State played in the regular season was 2012. That year, on their way to playing in their first bowl game since 1994, the Blue Devils lost to the Seminoles, 48-7.
The Blue Devils have posted wins over top-25 teams in each of the last four seasons.
But Florida State, after losing starting sophomore quarterback Deondre Francois to a season-ending knee injury last month, enters this game unranked.
But this is still the kind of win Duke continues to crave.
The Blue Devils have talked about having the requisite fire in the belly this week. Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vinny Rey, who played for Duke from 2006-09, was expected to speak to Duke’s football team Friday while in town during the Bengals’ bye week.
“It’s been pretty intense around here,” Cutcliffe said.
It needs to be. After starting this season 4-0, Duke has lost its last two games (31-6 to Miami and 28-21 to Virginia).
The series with Florida State has never been competitive. Duke’s smallest margin of loss to the Seminoles was a 25-6 decision in 2007, the final season before Cutcliffe took over the program.
“It gives us an opportunity to show what we can do,” Duke quarterback Daniel Jones said about the matchup against Florida State. “I know the whole team feels that way.”
This year’s Seminoles are banged up, which appears to open the door for a Duke win. In addition to Francois being out, Florida State will also be without three more injured starters.
Offensive lineman Landon Dickerson is out for the season due to this week’s right ankle surgery; starting safety Trey Marshall suffered a concussion in a loss to Miami last week; and outside linebacker Jacob Pugh suffered a concussion in practice Wednesday.
Still, Florida State is Florida State, a team that’s never lost to Duke.
“This will take our best effort because Florida State is that talented,” Cutcliffe said.