Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk will be back in Durham to play for the Blue Devils next season. The NCAA has granted him an extra year of eligibility to allow him to play in 2017 after sitting out the entire 2016 season with a partial Achilles tendon tear.
“I’m so grateful to have a sixth year to continue my dream of playing college football and, academically, work towards another degree from Duke University,” Sirk said in a released statement.
Duke announced Sirk underwent a season-ending surgery back in September. He was one of three Duke players to undergo a season-ending surgery, joining freshmen safety Javon Jackson and defensive tackle Zach Morris. At the time, it was unknown if Sirk would pursue a sixth year of eligibility with an NCAA waiver, although it was expected he would be nearly certain to receive approval for a waiver if he applied. Sirk missed the entire 2013 season with an Achilles injury.
Alabama will kick off its quest to win five consecutive College Football Playoff titles against Duke in 2019 in Atlanta, the Crimson Tide and Blue Devils announced Monday morning.
(Mostly kidding about that five-peat. Mostly.)
It will be Alabama’s sixth appearance in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff, which included the first Atlanta-based neutral site game in 2008 (against Clemson) and will include 2017’s curtain-lifter against Florida State. The Tide have also played Virginia Tech (2009, 2013) and West Virginia (2014) in Atlanta to begin various seasons, and opened the 2016 season against USC at AT&T Stadium.
There is, of course, a ton of money to be made off these neutral-site games. And that’s fine, but how much more fun would it have been to see Alabama travel to Lane Stadium and face a raucous, Enter Sandman-energized crowd at Virginia Tech instead of doing one of these games? (That’s a rhetorical question.)
But alas, we’ll just have to settle for these big neutral-site games, though Alabama-Duke might not exactly qualify as one of those. It’s not a bad consolation, of course.
It’s been a miserable season on the gridiron for Duke, which held such promise after beating Notre Dame earlier in the year but saw injuries put hopes of another bowl game in jeopardy.
On Thursday night however, the Blue Devils gave their fans one last highlight from the football field before attention on campus turned to the school’s basketball team by upsetting rival North Carolina 28-27 and causing a minor shakeup in the ACC standings.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Jones’ first action in the rivalry game was a memorable one, throwing for 240 yards and a touchdown while also extending drives with his legs (94 rushing, two scores). He did a good job spreading things out in the passing game, finding seven different receivers and helping T.J. Rahming hit the 100 yard receiving mark for the game.
With tailback Shaun Wilson also adding 107 yards on the ground, the Blue Devils went a remarkable 10-of-16 on third down and recorded a nearly seven minute drive in the fourth quarter to help salt away the win.
UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky had an efficient first half but didn’t come out as accurate in the second. He finished with 297 yards and three touchdowns but also tossed two interceptions, the latter of which was right into the arms of a Duke defender with the time winding down to end any hope of a comeback.
The victory is the Blue Devils’ first in ACC play and keeps their slim bowl hopes alive at 4-6 on the season. The team is on the road for their final two games of the year but could be in position to earn a postseason invite at 5-7 depending on how many teams become eligible.
As for North Carolina, the loss takes a return trip to the ACC title game even further out of reach. Virginia Tech owns the head-to-head between the two and only needs to beat Georgia Tech on Saturday or Virginia to end the regular season to clinch the ACC Coastal.
The college basketball season starts on Friday but before hearts and minds across the state turn to the hard court, Duke and North Carolina renewed their Tobacco Road rivalry on the gridiron Thursday night.
There were times early on where it looked like the Tar Heels were going to jump out to a big lead, but the Blue Devils responded with several impressive drives in the second quarter to knot things up at halftime 21-all.
Duke quarterback Daniel Jones was effective on short and intermediate throws to rack up 146 yards through the air while adding another 25 yards rushing. He spread the ball around quite a bit, hitting seven different receivers over the first two quarters and leading three scoring drives over 65 yards.
His counterpart Mitch Trubisky looked like the signal-caller many believe can be an NFL first-rounder, throwing for 210 yards and three touchdowns in the half. While he wasn’t normally a rushing threat on designed keepers (three carries, seven yards) as much as previous games, a lot of that had to do with feeding tailback Elijah Hood (6.2 yards a carry) against a defense that is much better than the stats would indicate.
It should make for a fun second half from Durham, as Duke is trying to keep their slim hopes at making a bowl game alive on Senior Day from Wallace Wade Stadium. UNC is in the thick of the ACC Coastal race and will need to capture a win if they want to remain neck-and-neck with Virginia Tech atop the standings with just a few games left on the schedule.
It was bound to happen after some UNC players went a little overboard in celebrating their acquisition of the Victory Bell trophy after defeating Duke in 2014. After spray paint cans ran wild on Duke property, the two schools worked out their differences and came up with a new idea for the Victory Bell Trophy with a new look representing both schools. Gone was the tradition of painting the trophy the shade of blue of the winning team. In was a design split down the middle with both shades of blue and logos.
That didn’t last very long.
After being ripped for the decision and accused of ruining the tradition to create a “participation trophy,” UNC Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham says the painting tradition will continue.
You just cannot expect to change traditions and have people mindlessly accept it. Yes, the tradition got carried away in a way it never should have two years ago, but let’s have faith in these young men to not make the same mistake again and spoil it for everyone once more.