The Wake Forest Demon Deacons play host to the Clemson Tigers on Saturday afternoon in a crucial ACC showdown from Truist Field. These could be the two top teams in the ACC this year and with what Wake Forest has been building towards, this could be the season for them to take down the Tigers and make a run at the conference title. Both teams are 3-0 heading into this one, with Clemson already having one ACC win under their belt. Last season, Clemson came away with a 21-point win, and considering their dominance in the series, all of the momentum will be shifting Clemson's way in this one.
Tigers Hit The Road In Crucial Match UpFor Clemson, years of dominating the ACC has given way to the idea that they'll be tough to take down, even when they hit the road. If anything though, the last few seasons have shown that this team is human, which means they'll need to be on top of their game as they hit the road in this one. The season started slowly against Georgia Tech but a strong second half saw them still come away with a 31-point win. The last two weeks have seen them grab wins at home against Furman and Louisiana Tech, but Saturday will provide a whole new challenge on the road. The Tigers have an experienced group themselves but if they take Wake Forest lightly, it could come back in a big way to halt their season in its steps.
The Tigers do have a few injuries and potential absences that could hurt them on the road in this. On the defensive side, the line could be most impacted. Xavier Thomas (foot) is out, while Justin Foster (undisclosed) is questionable. Eyes remain mainly on the status of Bryan Breese (personal), who missed the last game due to a death in his family. If he's unable to go, he'll be missed, though this team has the talent to overcome.
In records dating back to 1950, no Clemson Tiger had ever rushed for multiple touchdowns in the first three games of the season…until now. 🐅 pic.twitter.com/maOPTJIzAP— Clemson Football (@ClemsonFB) September 21, 2022
Clemson's offense stalled last season and while it hasn't exactly turned heads this go-around, it remains a dangerous group. Last season in this meeting, the Tigers put up nearly 50 points, and with so much coming back, this is a group that is bound to make things interesting. At the quarterback position, they have a dual threat that can keep defenses honest, though everything starts and ends at the running back position. Will Shipley has been instrumental this season in setting the tone and if he’s able to get going early in this one, it’ll be crucial.
On the defensive side, this remains one of the best groups in the country and for good reason. The depth of this unit is really what sets them apart from the competition, as well as their athleticism. It helps that they aren’t strangers to Wake Forest and while the Demon Deacons have an impressive offense themselves, this group has the defensive line to wreak havoc in the backfield. Expect them to try to disrupt things early and if they find success, to ride that to victory.
Demon Deacons Aim To Turn CornerFor Wake Forest, there’s no doubt that this group has been building towards the success that has come this season. This is one of the most experienced groups in the country, spanning both sides of the ball, and even after last year's loss in this game, they will be looking for revenge. Last season’s loss made this team think they were a step behind and while the two meet earlier on the season this time, it’s a crucial game for Wake Forest to set the tone. The Demon Deacons are undefeated on the season though without anyone like Clemson having made an appearance so far, Saturday will be a true test for this group.
On the injury and absence front, this group was very happy to welcome their quarterback back into the lineup over the last few weeks, though they do have a few other potential absences of concern. Horatio Fields (knee) has been ruled out for the season, cutting into some of their wide receiver depth, while the continued absence of Coby Davis (undisclosed) continues to hurt the secondary.
Intentional with every opportunity 🔒 pic.twitter.com/DGZMYcgRvU— Wake Forest Football (@WakeFB) September 21, 2022
Over the last few seasons, Wake Forest has been able to put together one of college football's best offenses. While they struggled to put up points in last year's meeting with Clemson, there's little doubt that with the experience back in the fold, this group could turn some heads this weekend. Moving the ball on the ground has been a struggle though, and while controlling the clock hasn't been their ingredient to victory much this season, it is likely needed in this one. Everything starts and ends with Sam Hartman at quarterback and if he can cut up the Tigers through the air, this group will be in good shape.
Defensively, Wake Forest has never been the strongest group, with that not likely to change heading into the weekend. Just last week, they gave up 36 points to Liberty and while Clemson's offense might not be what it was even just a few years ago, that'll be a concern. Forcing their opponents into turnovers is key for this group and if they can take advantage of short field situations in this one, it could be the recipe towards springing the upset.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
While it might be a challenge for Wake Forest to spring the upset, there's little doubt that they'll be able to keep pace with Clemson and make this one interesting. The Demon Deacons don't have many empty possessions with their offensive firepower. While Clemson once again struggles to get out of the gates at times, Wake Forest will be able to stay involved in this one through their offensive firepower. Hartman could be the ACC's best quarterback and his ability to move the ball and stay dangerous will be enough to keep them within striking distance. Additionally, according to covers.com, Clemson is 1-9 ATS in their last ten games in September, while Wake Forest is 4-0 ATS in their last four games following an ATS loss.
Full-Game Total Pick
Anytime Wake Forest takes the field, the likelihood is that it's going to be a high-scoring affair. The Demon Deacons put up points in a hurry and even against a stout Clemson defense, they'll be able to move the ball with ease. For Clemson, they put up 48 points in last year's meeting, and with the way their running game has been operating, they'll be able to make that happen yet again. Last year's meeting between the two teams saw over 60 points scored and there's little doubt that this one won't be much of the same. Additionally, according to covers.com, for Wake Forest, the over is 4-1 in their last five games following a straight-up win.