The Washington Times - October 19, 2009, 09:54AM

The latest sign Maryland’s football season isn’t what it hoped it would be: The Terrapins are early eight-point underdogs at Duke.

The fact the Blue Devils are even favored caught someone significant off guard.

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“I don’t know that we were favored,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “I don’t know. I can promise you the head football coach [didn’t say that]. … This is a tough matchup and we’ll have to play extremely well.”

To go ahead and answer the question on everyone’s mind, no, this isn’t the first time in ages Duke has been favored to win an ACC game. It happened twice last year.

But it doesn’t happen all that often, as Phil Steele demonstrates.

Since the Blue Devils’ last winning season in 1994, here is the full list of ACC games they’ve been favored, in reverse chronological order:

2008: Duke (-3) vs. N.C. State (Lost 27-17)
2008: Duke (-7) vs. Virginia (Won 31-3)
2002: Duke (-3) vs. North Carolina (Lost 23-21)
1999: Duke (-3) at North Carolina (Lost 38-0)
1999: Duke (-2 1/2) vs. N.C. State (Lost 31-24-OT)
1998: Duke (-9) vs. Maryland  (Lost 42-25)
1998: Duke (-2) vs. Clemson (Won 28-23)
1996: Duke (-1 1/2) at Wake Forest (Lost 17-16)
1995: Duke (-9) vs. Wake Forest (Won 42-26)

Put another way: Stretching back to late in the 1994 season, Duke has been favored in nine of its last 118 ACC games, and only twice by at least the eight-point spread the Blue Devils are initially being given this week.

Patrick Stevens