Duke visits Florida State in matchup of scuffling teams

NCAA Football

Two teams desperate for something good to happen square off Saturday in Tallahassee, Fla.

Duke will wrap up its season while Florida State hopes to resume competition when the teams tangle to see which side can produce its second Atlantic Coast Conference victory of the season.

Duke (2-8, 1-8 ACC) hasn’t been the source of coronavirus-related schedule changes, but the Blue Devils have had to make several adjustments the past several weeks.

“What I hope that comes from it for football players is that we grow as people, we learn a lot of life lessons and we use them for the rest of our lives in a good manner,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said.

Florida State (2-6, 1-6) has lost three consecutive games, but not recently. The Seminoles haven’t played since Nov. 14, and they’ll have just a 10-game slate overall if they get back on the field this week and then Dec. 19 at Wake Forest.

“You get late in the season and it has been a long journey with so many changes,” Florida State coach Mike Norvell said. “I think our guys continue to grow. … I think we’re getting better. Coming into this week, you have an opportunity to play Duke here at home, being the last home game of this season, and for some of these guys, the older guys potentially the last home game of their career.”

Already, this is the largest gap between regular-season games in Florida State history. On Nov. 14, the Seminoles used eight freshmen in starting roles in a 38-22 loss at North Carolina State.

Jordan Travis didn’t make the trip for that game because of an injury, but he’s listed as the starting quarterback for the Duke game. It’s also another chance for the Seminoles to take a look a freshman running back Lawrance Toafili, who is set for his second career start.

“He’s a natural playmaker with the ball in his hands,” Norvell said. “I think you’re starting to see that confidence. He’s definitely one of those guys we think can be one of the building blocks for this program.”

The last two teams to visit Tallahassee have departed without a result. Clemson and Virginia made those trips, but neither played when coronavirus-related issues interfered.

There was a development coming from those situations, with the ACC adjusting its testing procedures to ensure that results are in hand before the visiting team makes a trek.

Duke will have an unusual travel story for this season. Because of the ACC’s recent adjustment of schedules over the past few weeks, the Blue Devils will be the only conference team to play six road games. Instead of five home and five away in league play, Duke will have four home contests and six on the road.

This game had been slated for last week at Duke.

Duke’s lone ACC victory came at Syracuse. Since then, the Blue Devils have gone 1-4, with the success a nonleague romp past Charlotte.

The Blue Devils have surrendered at least 48 points in each of their past three games.

“We’ve been able to turn things around when we’ve hit bottom around here,” Cutcliffe said. “We have and we can.”

This will be the second week in a row the Blue Devils play a team or on a date that wasn’t on its schedule until Nov. 29. It didn’t go well last Saturday, when they took a 48-0 home loss to Miami.

Florida State is averaging 22 points per game.

Duke senior Victor Dimukeje is a one-half sack away from matching the career school record. He has 21 1/2.

Florida State leads the series 20-0, with all the meetings coming since the Seminoles joined the ACC in 1992. Included is the 2013 ACC championship game, Duke’s lone appearance in the title game.

The teams haven’t squared off since Florida State’s 17-10 victory in 2017 at Duke, the closest game in the series.

–Field Level Media

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