If Duke had something to prove coming into this season, trying to show last season’s bowl bid wasn’t a fluke, the Blue Devils have to do it all over again after the 45-7 loss to Florida State in the ACC title game.
There shouldn’t be any shame in losing to the Seminoles by 38 – Clemson lost at home by 37, Miami by 27, Maryland by 63! – especially after being the first team to hold Florida State scoreless in the first quarter all season.
Still, because it’s Duke and because it’s football, doubts will linger in the absence of a more competitive performance against the Aggies, another athletic team with a dynamic Heisman Trophy quarterback in Johnny Manziel.
In terms of degree of difficulty, the Aggies might not be at the Seminoles’ level, but they’re not far off.
The Blue Devils may be past the point where moral victories are good enough, but they need to keep this one close into the fourth quarter. If they do, they’ll have a chance to win it. If not, skepticism about the true caliber of Duke’s program will linger.
Expect the Blue Devils to make a stand, but figure the Aggies gig ’em 27-20.