CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Duke wide receiver Conner Vernon sees tonight’s Belk Bowl against Cincinnati as a perfect opportunity to help the Blue Devils’ football team emerge from basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski’s shadow.
This is Duke’s first bowl game in 18 seasons, and the Blue Devils have their 3:30 p.m. (Pacific) time slot to themselves on a day with two other bowl games.
“Anybody who follows college football will be watching, so this is our chance in the national spotlight to take a big step forward with this program and let people know about us,” said Vernon, the Atlantic Coast Conference’s career leader in receptions and yards receiving.
Duke (6-6) hasn’t won a bowl game since 1961.
“Is there a lot of pressure on us? Absolutely,” said quarterback Sean Renfree. “But good players like added pressure, and they thrive on it.”
Coach David Cutcliffe called this game the next step in trying to build a winning tradition.
“This is national exposure for us,” Cutcliffe said. “The NFL is not playing. We’re it. So people across the country who maybe heard a little bit about Duke football, if they see us play as well as we can play, I think they will be a little shocked. We have a lot of speed and a lot of skill. So this can have a huge impact for us.”
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