Howdy! It's a yucky, rainy day in Winston-Salem, where Duke will look to end its 12-game losing streak against Wake Forest. A few bite-sized information bits to consider before the 12:30 p.m. kickoff:
*If you haven't seen it on our site, check out my story on how to build a football program. Both Jim Grobe and David Cutcliffe generously made time in their schedules this week to sit down with me and talk about their approach to rebuilding a long-suffering team. Their methods are not exactly the same. Obviously, Wake Forest has successfully built itself into a team that is perennially competitive, with the 2006 ACC Championship, in Grobe's sixth year, as the zenith.
Meanwhile, at Duke, David Cutcliffe is in his fifth year. As he says, at this point, the program is ahead of the team. Cutcliffe loves his staff, he loves the facilities upgrades (like removing the old moldy carpet in the tunnel that led to the field) and, now, he would love to start winning more games. Today provides a perfect opportunity.
*Also, check out the game preview. I predicted a Wake Forest win, but I wouldn't be shocked to see the Blue Devils end the streak. Here's a blueprint for a Duke win:
-Don't turn the ball over. Another four turnover performance, like last week's against Memphis, will not lead to victory. Wake Forest will not beat itself.
-Avoid the slow start. Against Stanford, Duke gave up a punt return touchdown on the first drive of the game. Against Memphis, the Blue Devils fumbled in the red zone on their first drive and then muffed the first punt.
-Commit to running the ball. As I mentioned in my preview of the Demon Deacons defense, Wake Forest is ranked No. 117 out of 120 FBS teams in run defense. All-ACC nose guard Nikita Whitlock is listed as probable and will play after missing the past two games with a high ankle sprain, but the starter is a 6-foot-4, 245-pound true freshman in Tylor Harris.
Unlike Stanford and some of the ACC powerhouses looming on the schedule, Wake Forest does not have a significant size advantage on the line. The Blue Devils need to commit to giving Juwan Thompson, Josh Snead and Jela Duncan touches in attempt to open up the passing game.
As the picture shows, it's rainy and wet here. A reliable ground game would be a plus.
Be sure to check the blog and my twitter feed, @laurakeeley, for updates throughout the game