Duke, Wake Forest look to end losing streaks in finale
That will change for one team Saturday when the Blue Devils visit the Demon Deacons in their regular season finale.
Duke (6-5, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) has lost four straight while Wake Forest (3-8, 1-6) has dropped five in a row.
''We've had outstanding leadership and done a lot of the right things consistently,'' Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. ''What we haven't done recently as a team is play the way you play when you win games. We've done things that lose games. Not the entire 60 minutes. Not the same group.''
This certainly doesn't look like the same Duke team that won six of its first seven games and rocketed into the national rankings behind a defense that statistically was one of the nation's best.
Over the last five games - a span that includes its last win, a four-overtime victory at Virginia Tech - the Blue Devils have allowed averages of nearly 500 yards and 42 points.
Maybe they'll get right against during their visit to offensively challenged Wake Forest.
The Demon Deacons rank 120th nationally in scoring (17 ppg), 119th in total offense (322.8 ypg) and 123rd in rushing offense (104.6 ypg).
Their losing streak includes losses to three teams ranked 11th or better - No. 1 Clemson, No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 11 North Carolina - and they're coming off a 33-13 loss to the Tigers in which they allowed 552 total yards.
A loss to Duke would make it two straight 3-9 finishes - and two 1-7 records in conference play - in two years for Clawson at Wake Forest.
''Reality has set in: I'm a senior and this is my last game as a Demon Deacon,'' Wake Forest linebacker Brandon Chubb said. ''Emotions are high, so I'm just trying to give my all and end on a good note.''
Some things to know about the Duke-Wake Forest game:
NO CASH: The Blue Devils' defense will have to manage a half without safety Jeremy Cash, an All-America candidate who drew a targeting ejection during last week's loss at Virginia. Cash will be eligible to play the second half. Cutcliffe says he wants his players to play aggressively but ''you've got to learn when to pull off,'' adding that he's not angry with Cash because a player's decision to make contact with an opponent ''has to be made in an instant.''
FOUR QBS: Both teams figure to rotate a pair of quarterbacks, with Duke using both Thomas Sirk and Parker Boehme in similar ways while the Wake Forest duo of passer John Wolford and rushing threat Kendall Hinton couldn't be more different. Clawson says the Wolford-Hinton rotation in the Clemson game ''was the best mix we've had.''
IN THE BACKFIELD: One key figures to be how the Duke offensive and Wake Forest defensive lines play. The Demon Deacons had seven tackles for a loss in the Clemson loss, including 1 1/2 by Wendell Dunn. The Blue Devils allow only one sack for every 28 1/2 passing attempts, the best ratio in the ACC.
A FEW GOODBYES: It figures to be a brief Senior Day celebration for the Demon Deacons. They have only six seniors plus three graduate transfers playing their final college game. Wake Forest also will honor eight fourth-year players - some of whom Clawson said might not be back next year.
COACHING CONNECTIONS: Both head coaches have coordinated offenses for former Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer. Cutcliffe served two stints in Knoxville, wrapping up his final stay with the Volunteers in 2007. When he accepted the Duke job that December, he was replaced by Clawson - who left Richmond but spent only one season with Tennessee before Fulmer resigned and he was not retained by new coach Lane Kiffin.
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