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Seven games in, Duke still a bit of an unknown

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Florida State v Duke Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

On Saturday, Pitt’s football team will take on the Duke Blue Devils on the road. Seven games into the season, we already have a pretty good sense of most teams out there. One of those, however, isn’t Duke.

Duke is having a decent year so far at 4-3. But good luck trying to figure out just how good the Blue Devils may be. That’s because of their relatively light schedule so far.

The Blue Devils started out the season 4-0 and garnered a lot of attention. But there were still lots of questions about the team and that’s only increased with more time. Duke had easily handled NC Central, which was expected. But they also went on to defeat Northwestern, North Carolina, and Baylor. At the time, that looked kind of impressive but it’s far less so today.

The best win in that bunch was easily the blowout of Northwestern. But while that was a solid win, even Northwestern isn’t all that great. The Wildcats are 3-3 with no really good wins themselves and they fell short against Penn State and Wisconsin. North Carolina, of course, has been an absolute train wreck, going 1-6 so far this year. To be fair to them, they’ve played a pretty challenging schedule but still aren’t looking so hot. Duke’s final win? Over a winless Baylor team that even failed to beat Liberty and Texas-San Antonio.

Winning those games is nice and also shows the team is better than the 4-8 squad they were last year. But it’s the losses that have proven Duke isn’t a great team, either.

In their biggest challenge, they were easily defeated by Miami at home, 31-6. The other two losses are even a bit questionable at this stage. One was to Virginia, who is 5-1 on the year. But that’s yet another team that is almost entirely unproven as they’ve unloaded on a really weak schedule, defeating William & Mary, UConn, Duke, North Carolina, and a Boise State team that’s a step down from where they’ve been in the past. Finally, the Blue Devils did hang with Florida State, losing only 17-10. But the Seminoles are only 2-3 this year and nearly lost to Wake Forest a few weeks back.

None of this to suggest, by the way, that Duke is a bad team. The Blue Devils are certainly improved and, in case you missed it, were installed as more than a touchdown favorites against Pitt this weekend. However, what Duke is, is still a bit of an unknown. Is this a team that is a real threat to finish over .500 this year? With games still remaining against Pitt, Army, and Wake Forest, they’ll have a chance to do that. But the jury is still out just on how good this team is.

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