By AARON BEARD
AP Sports Writer
DURHAM, N.C. -- Chris Davis has been around long enough to see Duke play in prominent locales such as Florida State and Alabama. Yet even the senior safety can't help but feel a little bit of special excitement about this week's trip.
After all, the destination is tradition-rich Notre Dame.
"We're trying to take it as another game and getting prepared that way," Davis said Tuesday. "The coaches are trying not to get us up too high. It's been the same practices. Nothing's changed. It's just going to be a new place for us to play at.
"I'm trying to talk like it's not a big thing. It will be a big deal."
Of course, it's that way for the Blue Devils (1-9) for several reasons -- and not just because of where they're playing.
Thanks to the Fighting Irish's deal with NBC, Duke will get a rare chance to play on national television. Then comes the fact that Notre Dame (1-9) is struggling mightily under Charlie Weis this season, allowing the Blue Devils to treat a game that once seemed like a certain loss as a real chance to prove themselves.
On paper, at least, it would seem to be a huge mismatch. The words "Notre Dame" are synonymous with gridiron success, evoking images of the famous golden helmets, Touchdown Jesus, Knute Rockne and the underdog movie "Rudy." The word "Duke" creates the opposite: empty bleachers at home games, long losing streaks and being the punchline of jokes.
Yet Duke coach Ted Roof doesn't want his players thinking about any of that.
"I want our guys to get excited about (the game)," Roof said, "and at the same time, focus on playing with great effort, doing their assignment and getting after the guy who's lined up in front of them and not on what's happened at Notre Dame in the past.
"We certainly have a lot of respect for the program, but I don't want their past history or tradition to make any tackles or score any touchdowns. I want us to stay in the now and stay in the moment."
Roof has already tried to prepare his team. Offensive coordinator Peter Vaas, who spent the past two seasons at Notre Dame, addressed the players Tuesday morning about what to expect when they arrive.
It's a trip these players have been waiting to make, with Davis remembering how the underclassmen ribbed the seniors years ago that they wouldn't be able to play at Notre Dame.
"When the schedules came out a couple of years ago, we were very aware of it," Davis said. "But once the season started, we were really focused on our upcoming games."