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Duke Football: Likelihood of Blue Devils Making College Football Playoffs


The 2015-16 bowl games are finalized for this season, with Duke Football selected to compete in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl against Indiana from the Big Ten on December 26th at 3:30 pm. Most of the focus this postseason however will be on the college football playoff where 4 teams will meet to compete for the NCAA Football national championship. This year’s Final Four teams will be Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State, and Oklahoma, but here we want to how likely it is for Duke to be able to compete in the CFB Playoffs within the next few years.

The Blue Devils were actually predicted to be a sleeper college football playoff team earlier in the season, when they were still in the hunt for the ACC Coastal Division title before their four-game losing streak. The future looks very bright for the Duke football team, but to get to the playoffs in the near future they will most likely have to win the Atlantic Coast Conference Football Championship.

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Since the start of the college football playoff the ACC champion has represented the conference in the national semifinals, with Florida State going last year and Clemson attending this season. Additionally, the last two ACC runner-ups Georgia Tech and UNC were also still in the conversation for the playoffs up until the last weekend and possibly could have gotten in if they won or other top teams lost.

Recent coaching changes will have an impact on the ACC, but the ultimate challenge will always be Clemson and Florida State. Those two programs are the only teams that have won the conference championship for the last six years and the only schools with more than 10 ACC titles. Hopefully for Duke, they will get another shot in the championship game in the near future with the Coastal Division still wide open. There hasn’t been a repeat Coastal Division winner since Virginia Tech did it in 2007 and 2008.

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Duke’s best shot to make it to the college football playoffs will be with current head coach David Cutcliffe. Under Cutcliffe, the postseason has started becoming normal for Duke Football as the Blue Devils are heading into their program-best 4th straight bowl game this season. Cutcliffe even led Duke to the 2013 ACC Championship game against FSU and an appearance in a New Year’s Eve bowl game in the Chick-fil-a Bowl vs. Texas A&M. The only problem is that David Cutcliffe is now the oldest coach in the ACC since Frank Beamer retired at VT at 61 and, although he has shown no interest in retiring, we’ll have to wait and see how much longer he stays as a head coach.

Duke will also most likely have to play in tougher games throughout the regular season and Cutcliffe has mentioned that he wants to increase their strength of schedule. Blue Devil fans can look forward to future match-ups against Northwestern, Baylor, and Notre Dame as well eventual conference games with the Tigers and Seminoles from the Atlantic Division in the ACC rotation.

There’s also been talk of expanding the college football playoffs in the future to allow more than 4 teams, which will make it easier to get in without having to win the conference title and the ACC Coastal Division champion may be able to get in. No official decision has been made on that, yet so we’ll have to wait to see if that’s possible but that would only help the Blue Devils’ chances to make it to the national football semifinals.

Next year may be a longshot for the Blue Devils to make the playoffs, even though Duke will add one of their top freshman classes ever. It would take a Heisman-worthy effort from QB Thomas Sirk and overcoming the loss several key players on offense and defense including ACC Defensive Player of the Year Jeremy Cash. Duke Football will be competing in their 4th straight postseason game on December 26th in the 2015 Pinstripe Bowl, and the next step for the program is to win their first bowl game since 1961. Be sure to check out the Blue Devils in their final contest and we’ll keep you updated with all news and analysis leading up to the game vs. Indiana here on Ball Durham.