Hardly a cloud in the sky over Wallace Wade Stadium today. Credit: LAURA KEELEY
Welcome, ladies and gents, to the final event of Duke's homecoming weekend, as the Blue Devils are set to take on Memphis. I can personally confirm that there is a healthy number of alumni back, so we'll see if that translates to a bump in attendance. Speaking of attendance, here are a few other pregame thoughts as the clock ticks closer to 6 p.m.:
*First things first: check out my preview and prediction for today's game
*Despite numerous Groupon offers and Pandora advertisements, attendance is not where the program wants it. Last week's total of 22,829 for the NC Central game was a far cry from the 35,000 Duke coach David Cutcliffe had been hoping to see (in 2009 on a terribly rainy day, 26,390 fans saw the first Bull City Gridiron Classic)
For last year's homecoming matchup against Tulane, a program in a similar rebuild phase as the Tigers, 20,138 fans came to Wallace Wade on a perfect weather day. That was the second-lowest home attendance total of the year (18,747 came out Nov. 19 to see the Georgia Tech game). So, we'll see what we get today on another perfect day for football.
*Jordon Byas, who was slated to start at safety before sustaining a knee injury in the preseason, is expected to play for the first time this season today.
He is listed as the backup to freshman Dwayne Norman. Duke sent a note up to the pressbox announcing that Byas will start over Norman about 30 minutes before kickoff. Byas, who is a fifth-year senior, would provide a huge boost for the most injured unit on Duke's team.
*Watch Will Monday's holds on extra point attempts. Duke has missed two kicks this year due to faulty holds, and Cutcliffe said in no uncertain terms this week that Monday would be replaced if he can't get it right.