The duke Blue Devils and Northwestern Wildcats are not known for their football prowess, but that has changed over the past few years with David Cutcliffe and Pat Fitzgerald. These two men have turned these programs around, and they are competitive even if they do not win their conferences. Someone who watches college football often has a hard time remembering when either of these teams was relevant, but the Ivy Leagues of the south and Midwest are clearly playing good football every Saturday.

Facing each other

This mini matchup of faux Ivy League schools is quite a lot of fun because we are all aware of how good Northwestern and Duke are as academic institutions.

These two schools can face off now and get attention because their programs are good. They are not great, but they are good enough to warrant coverage. There was a time when these two schools were so insignificant that they would not even be mentioned as part of their own conferences. Duke was picked last in the ACC, and Northwestern was picked last in the Big Ten. That was their lot in life, and none of us ever expected them to be any good. We totally discounted these programs because they did not have talent or coaching. They appear to have both right now, and that makes them fun to watch.

Ruining seasons

These schools are great at ruining seasons for other teams. Pundits will say that a team can have a great season if they can just get past Northwestern or Duke, and those teams often lose the Wildcats or Blue Devils.

It is the curse of playing teams that you overlook because they were once so bad. It is still a shock even today to see Northwestern and Duke when they are ranked, but we must understand that college football has changed completely.

Players think about their education

More and more players are leaving the NFL early or focusing on their education because they want to do more than play football.

They have been pushed to schools like Duke and Northwestern because they know that the level of the education is so high. The players that trust these schools have more opportunities after they are done playing football, and they are going on to get graduate degrees and do amazing things. Duke and Northwestern do not shirk the educational needs of their players, and they are much harder places to stay eligible. Some players love that, and it keeps them focused as they play better football on Saturday. "The "smart bowl" is just a lot of fun.