There are at least a couple of ways to interpret the ending of Dukes regular season.
On one hand, the Blue Devils lost four straight games and seemed to grow soft after an emotional sixth win 33-30 against North Carolina on Oct. 20.
Same old Duke.
On the other hand, there was the second half against Miami in a 52-45 regular-season finale on Nov. 24. That Duke team fell behind 28-10 in the first half but came out of intermission and roundly outplayed the Hurricanes for the ensuing 30 minutes.
Theres a fierceness to winning, coach David Cutcliffe said.
In the first half, the Blue Devils were no more fierce than they had been in one-sided losses to Stanford, Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech.
Cutcliffe, the ACC Coach of the Year, had spent most of the season comforting his generally young and often beat-up team. But at halftime of the Miami game, he obviously shelved the honey and popped open a big bottle of hot verbal vinegar.
If fierce and fiery Duke shows up in Bank of America Stadium against Cincinnati, the Blue Devils should be good enough to spring an upset that lets 2012 end with a bowl victory, a winning record and more offseason confidence than the program has had since the days of Bill Murray.
Perhaps Im being too optimistic for long-suffering souls during this holiday season, but give me the Blue Devils, 34-31. Caulton Tudor