Duke football gathering respect in Associated Press Top-25 rankings

Duke football quarterback Riley Leonard and wide receiver Malik Bowen-Sims (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke football quarterback Riley Leonard and wide receiver Malik Bowen-Sims (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Duke football program is getting respect entering the 2023 season. 

It has been a long time since Duke football fans were looking forward to the start of a season but Mike Elko has completely changed the narrative in Durham.

Elko, in his first season as a head coach, led the Blue Devils to a 9-4 (5-3 ACC) record which culminated in a victory in the Military Bowl.

Now, led by quarterback Riley Leonard, Duke has a chance to make a name for itself on the national stage and has the opportunity to do so quickly as the Clemson Tigers make the trip to Wallace Wade Stadium on opening weekend.

The Blue Devils were not included in the Associated Press Preseason Top-25 Poll that was released on Monday, but the program did receive four votes to be included in the rankings which shows how far the team has come in about 15 months since its new head coach arrived.

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The last time Duke was ranked in the AP Poll was the 2018 season, peaking as high as No. 22, and it last finished the season in the rankings was 2013 at No. 23.

Duke football looking to continue positive momentum

Since the inception of the College Football Playoff rankings Duke has been ranked once in 2014 at No. 21 in the all-important poll and never finished inside the Top-25 following the College Football Playoff National Championship.

A daunting schedule lies ahead for the Blue Devils that includes four teams ranked in the Preseason AP Poll — Clemson (9), Notre Dame (13), Florida State (8), and North Carolina (21) — with the first two matchups coming in Durham while Duke has to go on the road for its final two anticipated ranked ACC matchups.

ALSO READ: Duke begins training camp following Mike Elko contract extension

Duke has not won back-to-back bowl games since the 2017 and 2018 seasons, which were also the last time the program made bowl games in two consecutive years.

The country awaits the debut of the Blue Devils against the Tigers on Monday, September 4 at 8:00p.m. (ESPN).

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