The Duke Blue Devils are one of the nation’s top teams when it comes to basketball. Football, though, has always been a lower priority for the university. This is not to say that the Blue Devils have not had their fair share of successful seasons.
With that thought in mind, let us look back at what we consider to be the top five seasons in Duke Blue Devil football history. For the sake of this list, every season in this list will be from the 1950s until now. If we went earlier than that, the 1938 season when Duke held opponents scoreless for the entire season would definitely make our list. Also, we will not take more than two seasons from one decade to mix it up a little.
On a side note, the 2022 Duke football season is not expected to be great, but wagers can still be made on the Blue Devils to surpass light expectations. Sports bettors cannot yet wager online in North Carolina, but they can make their bets in person at two retail sportsbooks. A third retail sportsbook is expected to be up and running in time for football season.
Best 5 Seasons in Duke Football History
No. 5: A Conference Title and a Big Bowl Win
This solid 8-2 season in 1954 included a top-six matchup with Purdue that ended in a tie. A conference championship was the season’s most significant highlight until a huge Orange Bowl matchup with national power Nebraska. The Blue Devils crushed the Cornhuskers 34-7 in a statement win on a rare, nationally televised game to cap off a great season.
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No. 4: Great Start for New Coach
The only winning season of the Fred Goldsmith era came in 1994 — his first as head coach. Going 8-4 while also getting to play in a bowl game — albeit a loss to Wisconsin — was unheard of at the time for Blue Devil football. It was the program’s first winning season in four years and its last for 17 seasons. The Blue Devils started the season 7-0 and rose to No. 16 in the national rankings.
No. 3: So Long, Steve Spurrier
The height of coach Steve Spurrier’s regime at Duke was a season that went so well in 1989 that it saw Spurrier leave for a better job at the season’s end. After a tough 1-3 start to the year, a massive win over No. 7 Clemson started a seven-game win streak that shocked the nation and led to an 8-4 overall record. The ACC championship was Duke’s first since 1962. The Blue Devils lost a challenging game to Texas Tech in the All-American Bowl and then watched Spurrier head to Florida.
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No. 2: Cotton Bowl Follows ACC Title
Bill Murray is perhaps the most successful coach in school history, with seven conference championships to his name. His 1960 season may have been his best, though. Duke went 8-3, won the ACC, and won the 1961 Cotton Bowl over Arkansas in a 7-6 defensive battle. Little did Blue Devils fans know, it would be 28 years until another bowl game appearance.
No. 1: Winningest Season in School History
The winningest season in program history has to be at No. 1, right? Coach David Cutcliffe had his ups and downs but has to be credited as the man that brought Duke back from the bottom of all teams in Power Five football. In 2013 Duke won its division, played in the ACC championship game, and almost beat Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl en route to a 10-4 record. Winning eight games in a row at one point, the Blue Devils played their best football since the 1950s.
AP Photo/John Bazemore