"When you have these kinds of opportunities ... you best pay attention to it and take advantage of them, because they don't come across your table all the time," coach David Cutcliffe said. "So it qualifies as a very big game. Handling a big game is an art. That's something that is a work in progress, and I'm anxious to see, as this week progresses, how this team handles this.
"It's fun. It's got to be fun," he added. "If it's not fun to do this, then we all need to rethink what we're doing."
Both teams want nothing more than to reverse a bit of history.
In each year since 2005, the winner of the Virginia Tech-Georgia Tech game went on to play in the title game. The Hokies won this year's season-opening matchup in overtime before a free-fall sent them to their worst season since 1992.
For the Blue Devils, it runs a little deeper than that.
All they've had to play for in previous Novembers were moral victories. But this group has already clinched its first bowl berth since '94 — and now, it wants more.
Another victory will wrap up the Blue Devils' first non-losing season since then. Two more will send them someplace they've never been — and, they hope, help them continue to shed their tradition of losing.
"If I'm talking to my cousin or something (and I) tell him I want to play in the ACC championship, and he's like (sarcastically), 'Oh, OK,'" cornerback Ross Cockrell said. "But that's the nature of the beast. We are Duke football. We have not traditionally been a strong football school. ... We understand the recent history of Duke, and we're trying to change that."
AP Sports Writer Charles Odum in Atlanta contributed to this report.