Duke finished last season 6-7 overall, which in general terms isn't much of an accomplishment. To put that in perspective, though, the man who preceded head coach David Cutcliffe won a total of six games in 4+ seasons at Duke. Simply getting Duke to bowl eligibility is difficult enough in the modern era, and were the Blue Devils to reach the postseason again this year, it would be the first time in school history that they'd earned back-to-back bowl trips.
2013 Duke schedule
Projections from Football Outsiders' 2013 college football almanac.
The Blue Devils start light with non-conference games against N.C. Central and Memphis before heading into conference play. Five of Duke's first six games will be played at home, giving the Blue Devils an opportunity to build early on what they accomplished a year ago.
Georgia Tech will provide the first significant challenge of the season for a Duke defense that needs to improve considerably for the program to take another step forward. The Blue Devils gave up 52 to the Jackets in 2012, and allowed at least 42 points in each of their final five games. They lost four of those contests by multiple scores, making clear that they still have plenty of work ahead of them.
The Blue Devils also face road trips to Virginia Tech and North Carolina, though they avoided the Atlantic Division heavyweights this time around, instead drawing Wake Forest and N.C. State. That's a fortunate exchange for Duke, which did have to play both FSU and Clemson last year, but the true gauge of progress will be its intra-division contests.
Duke might need to steal a couple of road games in ACC play to reach bowl eligibility, and with trips to Wake Forest and Virginia on the slate, that's doable. Another postseason trip would be historic, and perhaps more importantly, a sign of newfound stability within the program.