Duke football has not landed in the AP Top 25 or USA TODAY Sports AFCA coaches poll since starting 4-0 in 2019 and making a brief appearance at No. 22 and No. 23, respectively, in late September.
And until this week, the last time the Blue Devils received votes in either poll was in the USA TODAY's 2021 preseason edition, with one coach surprisingly slotting them No. 25 despite their 2-9 record the previous season.
But on Sunday, following a 49-20 home win over North Carolina A&T (0-3, 0-0 Big South), Duke (3-0, 0-0 ACC) picked up two votes from the coaches, signifying either a No. 24 ranking in one coach's poll or a No. 25 ranking from two of the 65 coaches who participate.
One could say the Blue Devils are in a tie with Mississippi State, LSU, and Notre Dame (the others receiving two votes) at No. 40 in the eyes of the coaches.
If nothing else, it's a sign the program is on the upswing under first-year head coach Mike Elko.
At least the two votes don't look silly, unlike in the program's most dismal years in the late 1990s and early 2000s when Steve Spurrier would rank the Blue Devils in his preseason ballot as a way to pay homage to the first school that gave him an opportunity as a head coach.
Indeed, this Duke football squad is worthy of a few votes at this early juncture.
After all, the Blue Devils have outscored their opponents, 110-43. They've done so by building impressive early leads — a combined 45-0 in their three first quarters — that have thus far proved sufficient despite the group's relatively lackluster second-half performances.
Duke would likely snag double-digit votes in both polls with a notable Week 4 win at Kansas (3-0, 1-0 Big 12), which totaled 28 votes between the coaches and AP voters this week. Barring a blowout victory, though, it's unlikely the Blue Devils would enter conference play at home against Virginia a week later with a ranking by their name.
Duke and Kansas kick off at noon ET Saturday on FS1.
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