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HTS 2018: Duke

Having to write about real history this week? Eh.

Virginia Tech v Duke
One throw-y boi.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Welcome to From the Rumble Seat’s weekly historical matchup lecture. Throughout the season, each unit in this class will examine the head-to-head matchups of our opponents in the 2018 season. Here we go again, back to opponents we’ve actually played before. What a concept. This breaks our 3-3 tie of opponents with history and opponents without it. And we had played Alcorn State exactly once. Fittingly, Duke, a team whom we share an exorbitant amount of history with, is the one to do it.

Duke Blue Devils

Opponent Background:

  • Conference: Atlantic Coast Conference (1953 - present)
  • Location: Durham, North Carolina
  • All-time Record: 474 - 493 - 31 (.490)
  • Home Stadium: Wallace Wade Stadium (Capacity: 40,004)
  • National Championships: N/A
  • College Football Playoff Appearances: N/A
  • New Year’s Six Bowl Games: 7 (Rose: 2 - 1939, 1942 Sugar: 1, 1945 Orange: 2, 1955, 1958 Cotton: 1, 1961 Peach: 1, 2013)
  • Conference Championships: 17 — (Southern: 1933, 1935, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1952 ACC: 1953, 1954, 1955, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1989)
  • Division Championships: 1 — 2013
  • 2017 Season Record: 7 - 6 (3 - 5 ACC)

Past Results:

  • Team Head-to-Head Record: 51-33-1 (.606)
  • Recent Meetings:
    2014 - 31-25 Duke (Atlanta, GA)
    2015 - 34-20 Duke (Durham, NC)
    2016 - 38-35 Georgia Tech (Atlanta, GA)
    2017 - 43-20 Duke (Durham, NC)
  • Coach Head-to-Head Record: 7-3-0 (.700)
  • Tech record in this week’s venue: 470-197-21 (.798)

2018 Football Schedule

Date Time (if known) Opponent Conference Historical Record Venue Result Notes
Date Time (if known) Opponent Conference Historical Record Venue Result Notes
September 1 12:30 p.m. Alcorn State Southwestern Athletic 2-0-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA 41 - 0 W FCS
September 8 12:00 p.m. @ South Florida American Athletic 0-1-0 Raymond James Stadium - Tampa, FL 38 - 49 L First Meeting, Group of Five
September 15 12:30 p.m. @ Pittsburgh Atlantic Coast 5-8-0 Heinz Field - Pittsburgh, PA 19 - 24 L
September 22 3:30 p.m. Clemson Atlantic Coast 50-31-2 Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA 21 - 49 L Rivalry, Hall of Fame Day
September 29 12:00 p.m. Bowling Green Mid-American 1-0-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA 63 - 17 W First Meeting, Family Weekend, Group of Five
October 5 7:00 p.m. @ Louisville Atlantic Coast 1-0-0 Cardinal Stadium - Louisville, KY 66 - 31 W First Meeting
October 13 12:20 p.m. Duke Atlantic Coast 51-34-1 Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA 14 - 28 L Homecoming
October 25 7:30 p.m. @ VPISU Atlantic Coast 7-9-0 Lane Stadium - Blacksburg, VA 49 - 28 W Rivalry
November 3 12:15 p.m. @ North Carolina Atlantic Coast 30-21-3 Kenan Memorial Stadium - Chapel Hill, NC 38 - 28 W
November 10 7:00 p.m. Miami Atlantic Coast 12-12-0 Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA 27 - 21 W Whiteout
November 17 3:30 p.m. Virginia Atlantic Coast 21-19-1 Bobby Dodd Stadium - Atlanta, GA 30 - 27 W (OT) Senior Day
November 24 12:00 p.m. @ u[sic]ga Southeastern 44-67-5 Sanford Stadium - Athens, GA 45 - 21 L Rivalry
December 26 5:15 p.m. vs. Minnesota Big Ten 0-0-0 Ford Field - Detroit, MI - First Meeting

Every Year Since 1933 and Counting

Duke traces its football history back further than the name Duke itself. First organized as the Trinity Blue and White in 1888, the squad played its first game against North Carolina that year. After a few years of disorganized competition, the Blue and White disbanded in 1895. They would not reappear until 1919, still known as the Trinity College Blue and White. Between then and the start of the 1924 season, both names changed and the team became known as the Duke University Blue Devils. They were an independent at this time, and were simply okay most years before joining the Southern Conference in 1928. The conference was growing rapidly, quickly becoming too unwieldy for the plethora of teams it supported.

Duke’s first real brush with destiny when, seemingly out of nowhere, they hired Wallace Wade from Alabama, who was already a titan of the game. He submitted his Alabama resignation in the spring, but demanded he coach one more season at Alabama before he left. Naturally, he won his third national championship at the helm of the Tide. Duke, being a private school, offered him more flexibility and fit more closely with his educational philosophy, or so he stated. Wade spent two decades in charge in Durham, amassing six Southern Conference championships and two trips to the Rose Bowl, one of which Duke hosted due to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Though he left for a few seasons to serve his country, the team kept rolling with Eddie Cameron as the interim head coach, who tacked on another three conference titles and a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama. Cameron was out of a job, but don’t cry for him, he became the athletic director and now has a basketball arena named after him. Yeah, that one.

Once Wade was out of the picture, Bill Murray took over as head coach, who won six of the first ten ACC football titles. This would be the last success Duke would see for quite some time as they wandered in the wilderness for more than two decades until they found a man called Steve Spurrier to lead them back to the promised man. If you’re uncertain who this is, simply ask the nearest fan of the schools in Athens or Knoxville. I’m sure you’ll get unbiased facts about his wonderful shenanigans. Also visors are in. Anyways, when he was hired, the Blue Devils were far and away the worst team in the conference. Within three years, he had led them to a slice of the 1989 ACC title and their first bowl appearance since the 1960 Cotton Bowl. Then he left for Florida. That share of the title is still the second most recent conference football championship amongst the four schools from the state of North Carolina.

The Blue Devils, without Spurrier, returned to being, for all intents and purposes, terrible. The nadir of this was probably hiring one particular Georgia Tech alum known for employing a “bend, don’t break” defense. His record in his four-plus seasons in Durham was a scalding 6-45. That man is Nate Woody’s predecessor at defensive coordinator here on the Flats. Oh joy. Anyways, after Ted Roof left, Duke hired their current coach, David Cutcliffe, who has brought about what can reasonably be described as Duke’s best stretch of football since John Kennedy was elected president. In the past decade, he has lead them to a division title and victories in both the Pinstripe and Quick Lane bowls over noted powerhouses Indiana and Northern Illinois. How dominating.

As far as Tech football history goes, From the Rumble Seat has been taking a biweekly look at football history since the beginning of the summer over at Rearview Mirror. And it hasn’t changed much since last week. The short version is that Tech football began ignominiously with a middling season in 1892. A game up in Athens in 1893, which Tech won, set the stage for one of the fiercest rivalries in the sport and also is one of the mythic origins of the Ramblin’ Wreck nickname, as well as how Tech got its colors. Tech was pitiful, to put it nicely, for quite some time until one man, Frank Turner, started an initiative to hire a bonafide legend as a football coach. That resulted in John Heisman. Heisman, innovator and champion, saw much success on the Flats until he dramatically left town as part of his divorce. The old man was replaced by William Alexander, who was known for his team’s strong academics and his own 1928 national championship. Coach Alex was, in turn, replaced by his own protege Bobby Dodd. By the end of Dodd’s tenure, Tech had amassed three national championships, twelve conference championships, including five in the Southeastern Conference, which just mean more, and had decided to go independent to make a stand not only for its football prominence, but its foundational academic principles as well. Dodd and Tech would not sacrifice student-athlete education and well-being. The independent years were lean for Tech and did not result in the dream of a “Notre Dame of the South” status. Eventually, Tech joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in the beginning of the 1980s. By the end of the decade, coach Bobby Ross brought the Jackets seemingly from nowhere to win a national championship, Tech’s fourth. Since then, the Jackets have seen average-to-great years, the most recent excellent year being 2014, when Tech was a few plays from the inaugural College Football Playoff. The Jackets have an all-time record of 724-491-43.

Since Duke and Georgia Tech have squared off each and every season for the past 85 years, there is plenty of recent history to draw from between the two rivals. The matchup in 2014 on the Flats was one of the two frustrating losses rung up on the Orange Bowl champions that year by Coastal foes from North Carolina. The Jackets had not lost to the Blue Devils in the past decade, and had taken 22 of the last 24. But we’ve lost to them three of the last four years, and I refuse to talk about the beatdown I had to watch live in their undersized and empty stadium in which traveling Georgia Tech students outnumbered the Duke student section. And this is Georgia Tech, which is not a stereotypically well-traveling school to away games. Remember when Duke football was not too swell? Yeah, those were good years on the Flats. As an aside, I personally think that’s a big reason why Tech fans may not see Duke as a true rival. They circle it as a win on the schedule every year, but the past four years, that hasn’t been true at all. We’ve played them eighty five years in a row, for goodness’ sake. We can’t say that about Clemson. We certainly can’t say that about Virginia Tech, let alone Florida State. And we all should have long accepted that Auburn, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt are never going to be regular fixtures on our schedule. So what to do about that? How do we learn to have that same passion for, say, Auburn, about the games we do play every year? We should have a grudge against Duke for taking away another shot at glory in 2014, or North Carolina that same year. Don’t start on that tie in 1990, either. We have almost a century of huge, title implication games against Pittsburgh. Virginia? Well, they’re there too, I guess. And anyone with a conscience can vilify Miami. We play Duke tomorrow afternoon for the 86th time in our history and the 86th year in a row. They’re gonna be ready to play. They’ve been our homecoming opponent a staggering 22 times since 1949, three times more than the next closest opponent, Tulane, sporting a 15-6-1 record all-time. Tech has won the homecoming game five years in a row, since a 41-17 beatdown at the hands of Brigham Young, and 20 of the last 22. Defend the streak. Defend the house. We’re gonna be ready to play, too.

Oh, and if you’re looking for Tech’s annual matchup with Auburn, check out Russ Chandler Stadium this spring. Pack the place. But still, the task ahead of us is at hand. Beat Duke.

The Jackets face off against the Blue Devils (51-33-1 all time) in week six at Bobby Dodd Stadium this homecoming weekend at 12:20 pm. The game will be aired on the Raycom Sports networks and can be heard over the radio in the usual suspects, 680 AM / 93.7 FM.

With the appearance of the historical matchup preview, that means it’s after Friday at 10:00 AM and that concludes From the Rumble Seat’s regularly scheduled pregame content. Tune in tomorrow starting at 6:00 AM for How to Watch continuing through the gameday thread and the postgame recap. Less than 36 hours until toe meets leather! As always, go Jackets!