DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Duke is looking forward to playing crosstown rival North Carolina Central more frequently — and not just because it’s one game the Blue Devils should win.
Duke looks to bounce back from an embarrassingly lopsided loss at Stanford on Saturday night when the Blue Devils play host to the Eagles of the Championship Subdivision.
It’s just the second meeting between schools located roughly 5 miles apart in what’s called the “Bull City Gridiron Classic.” Earlier this week, they announced they will play four more times between 2013-17.
“I think this is a game that the community really does take to heart,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said.
He expects his football team to do the same — if only because of what happened last week in California.
The Blue Devils (1-1) were outplayed in virtually every aspect of the game in a 50-13 loss to the then-No. 25 Cardinal. That result was surprising because it marked a step back following a season-opening win over Florida International.
“I am happy that our team is taking (N.C. Central) serious,” Cutcliffe said. “We talked about not forgetting what happened out west and why. I do believe that our team has taken it seriously on the practice field. So I think we’ve gone about our business to get better. Rome wasn’t built in a day. We can’t correct everything we did poorly from a blocking and tackling standpoint, but I do like our intensity and focus.”
The schools certainly seem closer geographically than they are competitively.
Duke may have the longest bowl drought among FBS schools, but the Blue Devils still appear a few steps ahead of N.C. Central (1-1), which is in the second year of full membership in the FCS after making the move from Division II. The Eagles were midway through their transition when Duke routed them 49-14 in 2009, the only other meeting between Durham’s two Division I programs.
N.C. Central is coming off an equally discouraging performance against Elon. The Eagles, who opened with a win over Division II Fayetteville State, had four turnovers and just 115 total yards in a 34-14 loss to the same Phoenix team that a week earlier was routed 62-0 by North Carolina.
No doubt, the Eagles will need to be much improved if they are to claim their first victory over a team from the FBS.
“I think from an offensive standpoint, we didn’t show up at all,” N.C. Central coach Henry Frazier III said.
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