Downs & Distance

Duke football a surprise in first place

Jordon Byas and the Duke Blue Devils sit in first place of the ACC’s Coastal Division.
Roanoke Times/AP
Jordon Byas and the Duke Blue Devils sit in first place of the ACC’s Coastal Division.

Jim McBride’s four items of interest on this week’s college football landscape:

What the Devil . . . ?

Just what exactly is going on down in Durham, N.C.? Duke, long the patsy of the Atlantic Coast Conference, is having its best season since 1994 — the last time the Blue Devils had a winning record and earned a bowl berth. If the winning continues, they might have to open up a subdivision in Krzyzewskiville (the makeshift village on campus where the Cameron Crazies wait for basketball tickets) called Cutliffeville in honor of football coach David Cutliffe. The Dookies (6-2, 3-1) sit atop the Coastal Division as they prepare for Saturday’s showdown at Florida State, which leads the Atlantic Division. (Hope the men’s hoops exhibition vs. Western Washington gets over in time for the 3:30 p.m. start.) Holding on to the top spot will be no easy task for the Blue Devils, who are 0-17 lifetime vs. the Seminoles. Cutliffe’s crew then faces a closing stretch against Clemson, Georgia Tech, and Miami.

Cocktails for two

There’s another big showdown in the Sunshine State Saturday as Southeastern Conference titans Florida and Georgia meet in the annual showdown once known as the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” (though I’ve seen a few on Waitts Mountain in Malden that seemed just as big). Anyway, political correctness has forced officials to drop the catchy nickname — traditionalists will never follow suit — but this game is still large for the Gators (7-0, 6-0) and Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1). Perhaps the largest part about this game is Georgia’s massive and mobile inside tackle tandem of Kwame Geathers (6 feet 6 inches, 355 pounds) and John Jenkins (6-3, 358). It’ll be entertaining watching Geathers (his brother Robert plays for the Bengals) and Jenkins (he played at Francis T. Maloney High in Meriden, Conn.) get after Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel (he’s an emerging star) and tailback Mike Gillislee (he already is one).

Personal foul


Idaho State coach Mike Kramer was given a one-game suspension by school officials when it was revealed that he pushed receiver Derek Graves to the ground with a two-handed shove at practice Oct. 3. It would appear Kramer got off easy, though police are still investigating the incident, which was caught on tape. It is simply unacceptable for a coach — at any level — to put his hands on a player in a threatening manner. Graves, a senior and one of the Bengals’ most productive players with 36 catches through four games, has suffered from neck spasms since the shove and has not been cleared to return. When he is cleared, will Graves ever be comfortable playing for Kramer? The player, who filed a police report, also has hired an attorney, possibly setting the stage for a civil suit. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Kramer (who has apologized) and Graves could peacefully coexist. Will Kramer ever truly have his players’ trust again?

Sizzling siblings

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While most would consider the Fluties the First Family of Massachusetts Football, Doug and his Natick homies might have to step aside for the time being to make room for the Perrys of Andover. It was quite a weekend for the Perry brothers. John, the head coach at Merrimack, guided the 4-3 Warriors to an 81-35 victory over Saint Anselm — a game in which QB Joe Clancy threw for 553 yards and seven touchdowns and 11 players caught at least one pass. Next up was James, the offensive coordinator at Princeton, who spearheaded the Tigers to a stunning 39-34 comeback win over Harvard, which included an improbable 29-point fourth quarter. James, a former standout QB at Brown, holds several Ivy League records, including career passing yards (9,236) and touchdown passes (74). A third Perry brother, E.J., got the weekend off on the right foot when he coached his undefeated Andover Golden Warriors to a 34-6 win over Somerville Friday night.

Jim McBride can be reached at