Roundtable: Will Wake Forest make a bowl game?

Streeter Lecka

The BSD gang weighs in.

There are two games left on the schedule, the first a nationally-televised tilt against undefeated Notre Dame in South Bend. The second is a home contest on Thanksgiving weekend against Vanderbilt, already bowl eligible and taking on Tennessee for revenge this week.

It was time to take to the staff and pose the question: will this Wake Forest football team, 5-5 on the year, win one more game to become bowl eligible. After the N.C. State loss, odds are slim, but there is still a chance. The Blogger So Dear family weighs in.

Bart Johnston: Wake enters the final two games of the 2012 football season with a 5-5 record. The Deacons have already missed two very realistic opportunities to snag the 6th win. If Michael Campanaro had been healthy against Duke or Maryland, and we hadn't had six suspensions against Maryland, Wake would very likely be sitting at 6-4 or even 7-3 at this point. This is slightly remarkable given how poor we have actually played this year, but as it remains we still only need one win to reach the coveted 6 win mark.

The two remaining games are on the road this week against top 3 Notre Dame, and then at home against a recently surging Vanderbilt team. You have to figure that Wake has nearly no chance of going on the road and beating Notre Dame this week. The Deacs are averaging 191 yards per game through four road games so far this year, which is last in the nation by 40 yards a game (yes...40 yards per game). This doesn't bode well for the Deacs given how good the Notre Dame defense is. I don't even think we score to be honest. The last game will be Thanksgiving weekend against Vanderbilt, who has already secured bowl eligibility. There won't be many fans at the game and Vanderbilt beat a considerably better Wake team in Winston in the finale last year like a drum.

Barring a major upset I don't see any feasible way this team makes a bowl and to be quite honest it really doesn't deserve to. Statistically Wake is the worst team in the conference by a considerable margin, and the only good win we have is over a North Carolina team who just gave up 68 points at home to a mediocre Georgia Tech team. I think we finish the season 5-7 with two blowouts in the last two games.

Griffin K: With a 5-5 record, Wake Forest needs a miracle-or a gift-to go bowling for the second consecutive year. They had two winnable games versus Duke and Maryland, but a combination of injuries, suspensions and poor decision making let those go by the wayside. The Deacs rank a horrid 108th (out of 124) in the country in points scored and 72nd in points against.

This weekend, the Deacs travel to South Bend to take on undefeated #3 Notre Dame. This will be the most hostile environment these players have faced all season. The revitalized Fighting Irish have everything to play for-a potential berth in the BCS national title game. They have displayed tremendous resolve, winning in Norman and Lansing, and stared defeat straight in the eyes, with two overtime victories over Pittsburgh and Stanford-though they were lucky with the missed game-winning FG versus the Panthers.

Their punishing defense is ranked No. 1 in the country with points allowed at 11.1. The unit, led by Heisman hopeful Manti Te'o, will eat alive the dilapidated Deacs offensive line. Expect Tanner Price to look like a deer in headlights. I do expect the Demon Deacon defense to challenge the Irish offense, but speedy quarterback Everett Golson and crew with make enough plays to put up a few touchdowns. A shutout is very possible.

Wake Forest finishes the season at home versus Vanderbilt, who achieved bowl eligibility with a win over Ole Miss. Last season, the Commodores shellacked the Deacs 41-7 in the last game of the season to finish with six wins. The Demon Deacons showed absolutely no heart or will in that game after they already punched their ticket to go bowling the prior week. Hopefully the Commodores return the favor to their friendly rivals.

If not, the Deacs are in trouble. The Commodores have superior talent on both sides of the ball. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews has been lethal; he is second in the SEC with 70 receptions for 1003 yards and five touchdowns. He has caught a Campanaro-esque 49 percent of Jordan Rodgers's passes. They also have 2011 Second Team All-SEC running back Zac Stacy out of the backfield. Vanderbilt boasts the 16th ranked defense nationally allowing only 18 points per game. This is even more impressive considering they play a brutal SEC schedule. If the Deacs play their best football of the year, and the Commodores are feeling generous, Wake Forest has a chance--albeit a small one.

Hopefully the Deacs have what it takes to go bowling, but I predict a disheartening 5-7 finish.

Jake: I tried really hard, but I cannot come up with a logical argument for Wake becoming bowl eligible. The 'Dores have 4 losses on the season, 3 of which are to current top ten teams (plus a solid Northwestern team). Meanwhile, the Deacs struggle to gain first downs and seem to be waving the white flag. While Vandy will come into this game with nothing to play for and Wake will be playing for their postseason lives, I just don't see a 6th win in Wake's future. Looking at the stats it's a miracle that Wake has 5 wins, but unfortunately the final record will show just those same 5 wins when the calendar says 11/25/2012.

Oh, and Notre Dame is going to deliver a swift curb-stomping. If Wake scores a point it would be a minor victory.

Robert Reinhard: I hate to say it, but I do not believe the Deacs will be bowling for their second consecutive season. Instead, it will mark the third time in the past four seasons that we've failed to make a bowl, after having made bowl games in three consecutive seasons prior to that. Our next opponent, Notre Dame, is tied with Alabama for top scoring defense in the country at 11.1 points per game. You combine that with the fact that we have the 108th best scoring offense in the country and you don't have to be a math major to figure out that our chances of scoring enough points to be competitive are slim.

Then you look at our final game which will be against Vanderbilt. According to the Sagarin predictor ratings, Wake should be a 15 point underdog at home. That's right, according to Sagarin's system which is now well-connected, Wake is 15 points worse at home to a team that only a few years ago was a perennial doormat.

I have no confidence that we'll come out aggressive in either game. I don't have any faith in our coaching staff, and I believe there are a lot of things that need to be addressed in the off-season.

Samurai: Truthfully, I think Wake can do it. It might be my well-noted optimism at work, but I honestly believe that Wake can beat Vandy (I'm with John, I think Notre Dame is fraudulent, but I'm not about to suggest Wake will be the ones to expose them. Still, if they do, so much the better!). I just think that Vandy is in a similar vein as us; they clearly have talent, and Franklin is a tremendous coach, but I don't think they always play to their potential.

Wake needs to play Vandy like their season depends on it to win, but lucky for us, it seems like it will. I just think the fact that it's in Winston, plus the fact that they'll have something to play for, will put the Deacs over the top. That said, much as it pains me, I see it as entirely possible that we'll end up 5-7. Given the schedule, I'd have said in the preseason that that would be borderline inexcusable, but the sheer amount of injuries we've had, especially on the O-Line, combined with Duke actually being way better than anyone expected, reduces my vitriol somewhat.

I don't know, I think we've got it, but I also wouldn't be shocked to be disappointed. That said, I'm a second generation Deac, so this is well-traveled territory for me.

John Mundy: First of all, I could waste two paragraphs talking about how fraudulent Notre Dame is, and how they are due for a come-uppance. Wake won't be the ones to do it, sadly, but it's coming.

That's not what we're discussing, however. What we're discussing is Vanderbilt. That's right, the 6-4 Commodores who have already qualified for the postseason. One might think Vandy might be satisfied with their bowl eligibility. That, unfortunately, is not the case. Next up this week are the Tennessee Volunteers, who may or may not have already fired head coach Derek Dooley. Last year, the Vols snatched a win from the Commodores in an exciting nail-biter at Neyland Stadium. Hours later, locker room video surfaced of Derek Dooley talking to the troops about the game -- start at the 1:50 mark.

Well, James Franklin was irked and still is irked about that ridiculous display despite all the diplomatic pleasantries currently emanating from Nashville. Make no mistake, Vandy wants this game badly. So badly, in fact, that UT has returned tickets for the first time in many years. Once the Vols have been dispatched, they have nothing to play for. Right? Wrong. Vanderbilt hasn't won 8 games since the reign of William the Conqueror, and it's very important feather in James Franklin's cap.. So, my prediction is that Wake Forest will face a post-Thanksgiving buzz saw in the form of the Vanderbilt Commodores.

What do you guys think? Will the Deacs be bowling? Or will the last two weeks prove to be a similar disappointing, tapioca taste as the rest of this dull and uninspiring year?

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