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Who Will Be Duke's Plus One?

Ranking the likelihood of Duke's potential non-conference opponents

The ACC approved a 10 plus one model for the upcoming football season. Duke’s 10 conference opponents were also announced, but, like the rest of the conference teams, the Blue Devils’ one non-conference game is still undetermined.

Here’s a look at the most likely options for the Blue Devils’ non-conference game:

1. Nobody: The ACC included the one non-conference game in the hope of luring the SEC into keeping its traditional rivalry games—Florida-FSU, Clemson-South Carolina, Louisville-Kentucky and Georgia-Georgia Tech. The SEC spoiled the party, however, announcing that it would play a conference-only schedule. The Big Ten and Pac-12 have already announced they won’t be playing non-conference games, so the only Power Five conference left for the ACC to match with is the Big 12, which will involve a great deal of travel during the pandemic. So ACC teams will be left to schedule games with teams from small conferences or FCS schools. Without the prospect of selling tickets to those games and likely low TV ratings, there’s a good chance the conference calls an audible and scraps the non-conference game, going with a 10-game ACC schedule.

2. Charlotte: The 49ers were already scheduled to travel to Duke for a Thursday night game. Assuming the ACC plays the non-conference game, Charlotte seems to be the best option for Duke. It’s a short bus ride and day trip for the 49ers and an intriguing matchup with a 2019 bowl team for the Blue Devils.

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3. Elon: The Phoenix is attempting to schedule a season, despite the fact that their league has pulled the plug on football. Elon already had a game scheduled at Duke this season, and the trip is even shorter for the Phoenix than it would be for Charlotte. Duke may give an assist to its neighbor over in Greensboro and keep Elon on the schedule. With a tough ACC schedule, the Blue Devils would also likely value an FCS visit instead of another potential loss.

4. Middle Tennessee: Duke’s scheduled non-conference opponents all involved minimal travel. The Blue Devils traveled to Middle Tennessee last year, and was scheduled to host this year’s game. If, for some reason, Charlotte and Elon aren’t able to keep their game with Duke, the Blue Raiders are a viable option.

5. The field: It’s hard to imagine Duke playing a non-conference game and going outside of its three opponents already on the schedule. (The fourth, Notre Dame, is now a conference game.) If the ACC comes to some type of agreement with the Big 12, Duke may bring in a new opponent, but otherwise, adding East Carolina, Navy or the like seems like it would be more difficult than just keeping one of the currently scheduled foes.