The Gridiron Deacs will conclude its 2014 season with a game at Wallace Wade Stadium tonight as they travel to take on the Duke Blue Devils. Wake Forest enters the game at 3-8 (1-6 in the ACC), while Duke comes in 8-3 (4-3).
Duke had its hopes of consecutive ACC Title game appearances crushed last week in a blowout loss to North Carolina. Wake Forest, on the other hand, won a thrilling (for Wake fans at least) 6-3 game over Virginia Tech.
While Wake Forest has struggled this season at times, especially on the offensive side of the football, the victory last week brings some sense of hope and progress moving forward.
The Blue Devils were in fantastic shape to represent the Coastal Division again this season after a 27-10 win over Syracuse to push its record to 8-1. Back-to-back losses to Virginia Tech and North Carolina at Wally Wade brought the team back down to earth, and now have a game against the Deacs before its bowl game.
Duke relies on a balanced rushing and passing attack to average 31.7 PPG so far on the season. The rushing game is 5th in the ACC at 187 YPG, and 8th in passing at 208 YPG.
Sr. QB Anthony Boone has thrown for 16 TD's and 7 INT's on the year, accounting for 2,232 passing yards and 317 rushing yards (with 4 rushing TD's).
Fr. RB Shaun Wilson leads the rushing attack with 568 yards on 69 attempts (8.23 YPR), but Josh Snead and Shaq Powell have also run the ball successfully on the year.
The receiving corps effectively starts and ends with Jamison Crowder. He has 70 catches on the year for 840 yards and 5 touchdowns. Isaac Blakeney and Max McCaffery have 36 and 35 catches respectively for 9 more touchdowns.
Duke has actually struggled a fair amount defensively, ranking second-to-last in the ACC in yards allowed per game at 408.1 YPG, but is 4th in PPG allowed at 20.5. A true definition of a "bend-don't-break" defense.
It is hard to guess how the game will play out tonight because it is clearly the "bowl game" for Wake Forest. Coach Clawson has stressed all season behind closed doors about the importance of winning this game for recruiting, bragging, and continuity purposes moving forward. It is Senior Day in Durham for the Blue Devils, but I am unsure of the motivation for Duke players after a Coastal Title was lost last weekend against UNC.
At the end of the day I think it will be much, much closer than the spread of 17 points would indicate, and I'm going out on a limb, predicting a 7th straight win over the Blue Devils in Durham.