Week 13 - Vanderbilt at Wake Forest

Posted Nov 21, 2012

Week 13 Fearless Prediction – Vanderbilt at Wake Forest

Vanderbilt (7-4) at Wake Forest (5-6) Nov. 24, 3:30, ESPNU

Here's The Deal: Vanderbilt is on fire. This week, it gets to spread the heat outside of SEC country for a change.

The Commodores last lost to Florida on Oct. 13, and have only lost to teams that have won no fewer than eight games this season. No, they haven't captured any signature wins, though good luck convincing the folks in Nashville that last week's 41-18 rout of Tennessee wasn't a very big deal. Last Saturday was another giant step forward for second-year head coach James Franklin, who has Vandy playing as if it might someday become the Stanford of the South.

In a testament to the breadth and mediocrity of the bowl season, Wake Forest still has a shot to be a part of it. The Demon Deacons, which peaked at 3-1 in September, have won just twice since. And in their last two games, trips to Raleigh and South Bend, the team managed to score just six points. Still, an upset this Saturday will afford Wake an additional game and the valuable extra practice time that comes with it.

Why Vanderbilt Might Win: The Commodores are the last thing Wake Forest needs to see as it seeks the .500 mark.

The Demon Deacons are a shambles on offense, falling to 117th in the country. Vandy will get to Winston-Salem with something to prove, sporting an underrated defense that ranks in the top 20 in pass defense, tackles for loss, scoring D and total D. In vintage SEC fashion, the ‘Dores will generate an incessant push from the likes of DT Rob Lohr and linebackers Chase Garnham and Karl Butler, while lockdown CB Andre Hal neutralizes WR Michael Campanaro, Wake Forest's only consistent playmaker on offense.

Why Wake Forest Might Win: Vandy just beat in-state rival Tennessee at home for the first time since 1982. It cannot possibly get up for a non-conference game with a middling Wake Forest team.

The Deacons will have the edge in focus and motivation, needing this win to extend their season. They'll need to put this game in the hands of their upperclassmen on defense, attempting to corral a mediocre Commodores system. The strength of the unit is up the middle, where NG Nikita Whitlock can be a disruptive force, and linebackers Justin Jackson, Mike Olson and Riley Haynes are active in space. Wake Forest must maintain its ACC lead in turnover margin by stripping balls and picking off a couple of Jordan Rodgers' passes.

What To Watch Out For: Wake Forest has talent on defense, but does it have any gas left in the tank?

The Deacons got trucked by Notre Dame a week ago, allowing 584 yards and five touchdowns. The Commodores won't likely duplicate those numbers, but they can counter with some balance and pop of their own. Zac Stacy is an All-SEC back, and low-risk QB Jordan Rodgers rarely makes mistakes in his attempts to get the ball in the hands of top receivers Jordan Matthews and Chris Boyd. Matthews has caught a touchdown pass in three straight games despite the fact that everyone knows where Rodgers is looking.

What Will Happen: Vanderbilt has yielded six touchdown passes all season. Wake Forest cannot run the ball. The Demon Deacons are pretty much boxed in at this point offensively.

No longer just happy to be here, Vandy won't kick its feet up now that it's bowl-eligible and a week removed from destroying Tennessee. The Commodores will maul the Wake offense, flashing the lateral speed and open-field tackling that they've relied on all season. Stacy, Rodgers and Matthews will provide more than enough production on offense to prevent the visitors from being threatened in the second half.

CFN Prediction: Vanderbilt 34 … Wake Forest 13
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Vanderbilt -11 O/U: 46
Must Watch Rating (5 – Beware of Mr. Baker, 1 – Life of Pi): 2