This is where it gets dicey for Duke.
No one thinks the Blue Devils can back up last weeks benchmark win over North Carolina with another over Florida State.
Thats not really the point. Its fun to think about but even without running back Chris Thompson (season-ending knee injury), the Seminoles should win by three or four touchdowns.
Coach David Cutcliffe has done an incredible job by virtually levitating what was the nations worst BCS-level program into a six-win, bowl qualifier.
But the overriding challenge for Cutcliffe and his players now is maintaining enough steam to avoid a 6-6 regular-season finish. In other words, a four-game losing streak against Clemson, Georgia Tech and Miami after the trip Saturday to Tallahassee.
And although the Clemson (Nov. 3) and Miami (Nov. 24) games will be played in Durham, theres every reason to think the Blue Devils will not be favored in another game this season.
There are several keys to avoiding a four-game skid, but the most important is simply surviving Florida State.
The last thing Duke needs against FSU is a loss and a beating to boot. The teams key players quarterback Sean Renfree, wideout Conner Vernon, handyman Brandon Connette, defenders Jamal Wallace and Dezmond Johnson, plus several others have been taking standing eight-counts for several weeks.
Any chance of turning a possible 6-6 record into 7-5 or 8-4 requires keeping the primary playmakers up and running.
FSU coach Jimbo Fisher hasnt yet produced a great team. He may never do it. The dynamic has changed at FSU. Most of the players on the 2012 roster cant remember a time when the Seminoles were among the best two or three teams in the country year after year.
But what Fisher and staff have been able to do is restore the emphasis on physical play, which has to concern Cutcliffe as much or more than anything else.
Starting with quarterback E.J. Manuel (6-5 245), theres a lot less finesse in FSUs offense than was the case during Fishers first two seasons as coach or the final four or five years of Bobby Bowdens tenure.
A return to big, physical tactics is in tune with what Fisher saw in the Southeastern Conference during his six seasons at LSU.
Were not as physical as we want to be eventually, but were getting there, Fisher said recently.
Duke is bigger and stronger, too. This may be most physical Blue Devil team since Mike McGees coaching run in the 1970s.
In Dukes favor is the fact that there will be an open date the week before going to Georgia Tech (Nov. 7) and facing Paul Johnsons wishbone.
The Devils have shocked the football world, but they still need to find a way to squeeze out at least one more surprise. Otherwise, that win over UNC will soon seem like a distant memory.