Despite a heartbreaking, fourth quarter loss Duke has a lot to be proud of.
The Chick Fil A Bowl may become known as the one that got away. The loss may haunt the players, coaches, and fans for a while. And rightfully so. The Blue Devils lost to the Aggies of Texas A&M in devastating fashion after leading the entire game. But even in defeat Duke proved themselves to the college football world.
Duke came into the game as an 11.5 point underdog. Many experts predicted Duke to be nothing more than the final chapter of Johnny Manziel's legendary collegiate career. Duke almost created their own legendary finish.
From the opening kickoff it was evident that Duke came to play.The Blue Devils stormed out to a 21-3 lead, and responded to the ensuing Texas A&M scores to take a 38-17 halftime lead only to let it slip away in the second half. Even in the midst a furious Aggie comeback in the second half, Duke came back with scores of their own, only to be defeated by a series of unfortunate events in the closing minutes. Johnny Manziel was himself, the 2012 Heisman trophy winner played one of the best games of his career, and for 55 minutes Anthony Boone was just as good.
A win would have been great. And this loss is as disappointing as they come. But Duke let the nation know they have arrived.
This year's Chick Fil A Bowl was the most watched non-BCS bowl game on ESPN since, at least, the year 2000. With fans, players, media, and NFL scouts all watching Duke let everyone know they are ready to play big time college football.
The 10-2 regular season has been downplayed by some as the product of a soft schedule and some very fortunate breaks. Those things may be true, but after seeing Duke's performance with the world watching, the Blue Devils proved that this season was no fluke. This is a good football team we saw this year. Not good enough to win the ACC Championship and not quite good enough to beat Johnny & the Aggies. But still a good, tough, prideful football team.
Duke's performance in the regular and post season has the excitement around the football program at a level never seen before. David Cutcliffe and the rest of the staff and team will not disappoint. They can't. The world is watching now.