Week 9 – Clemson at Wake Forest

Posted Oct 25, 2012

Week 9 Fearless Prediction – Clemson at Wake Forest

Clemson (6-1) at Wake Forest (4-3) Oct. 25, 7:30, ESPN

Here’s The Deal: Regardless of what Florida State does over the next month of play, Clemson is thinking BCS bowl game for January. A Thursday night game on national TV affords the team an opportunity to impress skeptical pollsters.

The Tigers are No. 18 in the latest BCS standings , but there’s time—and room—for growth in the human polls and computer models. Clemson has regrouped from its loss to the Seminoles on Sept. 22 to post three straight double-digit wins over Boston College, Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Last Saturday’s 38-17 blowout of the Hokies was another statement win for a program determined to play like a top 10 squad the rest of the way.

It sure wasn’t pretty, but Wake Forest found a way to get past Virginia last weekend, a huge step forward for a program hoping to play a bonus game in December. The Demon Deacons have fought through injuries and suspensions to get above the .500 mark, showing the trademark toughness that’s inherent to all of Jim Grobe’s teams.

Why Clemson Might Win: Wake Forest has quieted Maryland and Virginia the last two games. Clemson isn’t Maryland or Virginia.

The Deacons have wilted in the face of decent offensive attacks in 2012, which will not bode well for a visit from the Tigers. You have to go back to the opener to find a game that the Tigers were held below 37 points. No one in the ACC has more big-play weapons or well-orchestrated balance. Wake’s middling D, which might end up with a lone all-star, NG Nikita Whitlock, does not match up well with the breakaway speed of RB Andre Ellington or receivers DeAndre Hopkins and Sammy Watkins. At some point in this game, one member of the trio is going to break it open with a gash through the defense.

Why Wake Forest Might Win: No one is beating Clemson with defense. The Deacons must find a way to get the offense cranking.

Wake Forest has been sketchy with the ball all year, but hope comes from a fired up home crowd and a Tigers D that is vulnerable. Clemson has allowed 31 points in three of the last four games, which is a level of production that Wake will need to reach. With WR Michael Campanaro still out, the onus will fall on the backfield duo of QB Tanner Price and RB Josh Harris. It’ll be up to Price to work the intermediate routes, while Harris softens a front seven allowing more than five yards per carry.

What To Watch Out For: As if the Tigers can afford any defections on defense, starting CB Darius Robinson was lost for the year with a fractured ankle. In order to fill the void in the secondary, the staff has decided to shift versatile senior Xavier Brewer over from safety, and prep rookie Cortez Davis for a crash course in more playing time. With the Wake Forest passing attack struggling, this is a good week for Clemson to adjust to changes in the defensive backfield.

What Will Happen: Regardless of the circumstances, it’s never wise to take Wake Forest lightly, especially for a mid-week game in Winston-Salem. And Clemson knows it.

The Deacons—and their fans—will be fired up for a chance to play in front of a larger audience. The opportunity presents itself infrequently. They’ll ride the wave of emotion for a while, but it won’t last beyond the first quarter or so. Wake simply doesn’t have the athleticism or the playmakers to match up well with the Tigers. Once Clemson builds a little cushion, with help from the offense and the special teams, it’ll run away and hide, coasting to a comfortable fourth straight victory.

CFN Prediction: Clemson 39 … Wake Forest 21
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Clemson -13 O/U: 59
Must Watch Rating (5 – The Girl, 1 – Don’t Trust The B In Apt. 23): 2.5