If the Clemson Tigers have any hope of repeating as the ACC Champions, they have absolutely no room for error the rest of the regular season. That’s because Clemson lost 49-37 at Florida State on Sept. 22. FSU has also since lost a conference game but obviously would hold any head-to-head tiebreaker with Clemson for the Atlantic Division title.
The good news is that Clemson (6-1, 3-1) is in good shape to win out. It’s a solid favorite for Thursday night’s game at Wake Forest and should be favored at Duke, vs. Maryland and vs. NC State. The Tigers just have to hope FSU slips up. The Demon Deacons (4-3, 2-3), meanwhile, are simply trying to get bowl eligible and perhaps play BCS bowl spoiler down the line in a Nov. 17 game at Notre Dame.
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Clemson has won three in a row against Wake. Last year, the then-No. 9 Tigers clinched the Atlantic Division title with a 31-28 win over the Deacons on a 43-yard field goal as time expired. The Deacons led 28-14 at one point. Clemson had 522 yards of offense and Tajh Boyd threw for 343 yards and two scores, but he was picked off twice as Clemson turned it over three times overall. Wake Forest QB Tanner Price threw the ball 37 times but had just 172 yards on 24 completions.
However, Wake Forest has been up to the challenge at home of late, winning three of the past five in Winston-Salem vs. the Tigers. Wake Forest’s last win was 12-7 in 2008 in Tommy Bowden’s last game as Clemson head coach. That was also a Thursday night game.
Clemson at Wake Forest Betting Storylines
Clemson cleared what should be the toughest remaining challenge on its ACC schedule by thumping Virginia Tech 38-17 on Saturday, dominating the Hokies for the third time in a year (regular season and last year’s ACC title game). On Saturday, Clemson actually was outgained 406-295 (131 yards below its previous season-low in yards) and had the ball for about eight minutes less, but the Tigers’ defense had a season-high three interceptions (one returned 74 yards for a score) and held Virginia Tech to just seven second-half points.
Clemson’s Boyd was sacked five times and just 12-of-21 for 160 yards, 131 fewer than he averages. He did become the first Clemson QB since 2001 to rush for two scores. Receiver Sammy Watkins was a freshman all-American last season but has taken a step back this year (suspended first two games). But he did have season highs for receptions (eight) and receiving yards (84) vs. the Hokies. It was the Tigers’ 11th straight home win, tying a school record.
Clemson did suffer a key injury in the game: Junior starting cornerback Darius Robinson suffered a small ankle fracture that will sideline him for at least the remainder of the regular season. Senior Xavier Brewer, who has started games at both free safety and cornerback this season, will now shift primarily back to cornerback, according to the local media.
Wake Forest ended a two-game losing streak with an ugly 16-10 win at Virginia (six Deacons returned from suspension). The Demon Deacons entered that game allowing more than 206 rushing yards per game, but the Cavs had only 48 yards. Wake Forest won with 213 yards of total offense (team’s second straight game with less than 300), its lowest total in an ACC victory since 1966. And the Deacons were 1-for-15 on third down.
Wake is No. 96 nationally in scoring (22.0 points per game), No. 97 in passing (195.6 yards per game) and No. 101 in rushing (120.6). Top receiver Michael Campanaro hasn’t played since breaking his hand Sept. 29 vs. Duke. Back then, the club hoped he could return by this game, but that won’t happen. He leads the club with 38 catches for 429 yards and three scores despite missing the past two games.
Clemson at Wake Forest Betting Odds and Trends
On 5Dimes, Clemson is a 13-point opening favorite. There is no total as of this writing but it figures to be in the mid-50s. The Tigers are 5-2 ATS this season and 4-2 “over/under”. Wake is 4-3 ATS and 3-3 O/U.
Clemson is 5-0 in its past five ACC games. The Tigers are 7-3 ATS in their past 10 road games. The Deacons are 4-9 ATS in their past 13 games vs. a team with a winning record. Wake is 1-5 ATS in its past six games following a win. The under is 8-3 in Wake’s past 11 games overall. But the over is 8-3 in Deacons’ past 11 following a win. The under is 4-0 in the past four meetings. Clemson has covered just once in the past six at Wake.
College Football Picks: Clemson at Wake Forest Predictions
Wake was on a bye before playing Virginia yet was still offensively inept. Clemson, meanwhile, hasn’t scored less than 37 points since Week 1 and is Top 20 in passing (301.1 ypg) and scoring offense (40.9).
Usually a quick turnaround is a big benefit to the team that doesn’t have to travel. But Tigers offensive coordinator Chad Morris (who is reportedly the highest-paid assistant in college football) said his team worked a bit on Wake Forest during the Oct. 14 bye week. Maybe that’s why the offensive struggled vs. Virginia Tech? If it comes down to a winning kick, major advantage to Clemson. Tigers kicker Chandler Catanzaro is 12-for-12 this year (long of 50) and has made 20 straight dating to last season (he kicked the winner in the 2011 meeting). The ACC record is 27 in a row by Marc Primanti of NC State from 1995-96.
This is Clemson’s quickest turnaround between games since 2009 when it last played on a Thursday night, losing at Georgia Tech in the second game of the season. The Tigers win here but do it somewhat sloppily. Take Wake, the points and the under.
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