ACC Notebook: Duke reaches ACC Championship Game for first time

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

The ACC has so desperately wanted a team to reach the top again in college football. So on the day that the path was paved to make Florida State the nation's No. 1 team, that part of the story was almost pale compared to what Duke has done.
The Blue Devils, believe it or not, are headed to the ACC championship game for the first time.
Florida State is on the national radar, but Duke might be the darlings of the whole country. The Blue Devils have struggled for most of the past two decades, enduring winless seasons and eliminated from bowl pictures by mid-October.
Now, Duke holds an eight-game winning streak after toppling rival North Carolina 27-25 to win the ACC's Coastal Division.
"We just keep on going to the next thing," senior cornerback Ross Cockrell said. "We enjoy what we are doing, but the job isn't done."
So often for the past two decades, by the last day of November the next thing for the Blue Devils is the offseason.
Duke is unbeaten in five road games. It has been more than two months since it has lost a game.
"It's not even real," Duke tight end Braxton Deaver said. "I don't know when we're going to come down from Cloud Nine. I couldn't dream how incredible this has been."
Duke will have its toughest test against Florida State. The Seminoles must win to stay on track for a national championship, so that will be the overriding story in the ACC championship game.
Even so, it has been a storybook season for Duke, which has secured the first 10-win season in the program's history.

1. Duke is in the ACC championship game for the first time, doing so by winning eight games in a row, including its final six conference games after an 0-2 start in the league.
2. Florida State has moved to the top rung in the BCS, so the Seminoles should have to worry about some other team knocking them out of the national title game so long as they take care of business against Duke in the ACC championship game.
3. The top Heisman Trophy candidate from the ACC might still be QB Jameis Winston of Florida State. The bid from RB Andre Williams of Boston College is still strong, but it took a hit with a 29-yard, injury-impacted outing at Syracuse.
4. Misery has company. Virginia and N.C. State both went winless in ACC play. Two teams benefited most from those 0-8 records as North Carolina and Duke played them both.
5. Syracuse's victory against Boston College in the final seconds pushed the number of ACC teams eligible for bowls to 11 teams. The Orange joined North Carolina and Pittsburgh in the six-win category.

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