The Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-6,0-4) will host the #21 Clemson Tigers (6-2,5-1) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at BB&T Field. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN. The Tigers are coming off five consecutive wins, while the Demon Deacons are on a four-game losing streak. Clemson opened up as a 20-point road favorite, but the line has since gone up to 21 or 21.5 points in some places. Let's take a look at the matchup on both sides of the ball.
When Clemson has the ball
Clemson will start quarterback Cole Stoudt, although freshman Deshaun Watson has been upgraded from out to doubtful. This is very fortunate for Wake Forest, because Watson is much better that Stoudt despite his youth. Although Stoudt has thrown 70 more passing attempts on the year than Watson has, he has thrown for 30 fewer yards than Watson. Watson averages 10.5 yards/attempt compared to Stoudt's 6.3. Stoudt has also completed just 63% of his passes. All of this plays to the advantage of Wake Forest and its secondary. If Wake is to have any chance in this game, then they must dominate special teams, and force a number of turnovers on defense.
Clemson's offensive line is not a strength of theirs. They average just 3.27 yards/carry, which is 114th nationally. It will be critical for Wake's front seven to stuff Clemson on run attempts on early downs, and force Clemson into obvious passing situations.
When Wake Forest has the ball
Oh boy. This is the aspect of the game that is a complete mismatch on paper, and will almost certainly be a mismatch on the field this Thursday. Clemson has the 3rd best defense in the country according to S&P+ ratings, while Wake Forest has the 2nd worst offense in the country. Clemson's front seven led by Vic Beasley is a matchup nightmare for our young offensive line. Beasley already has 11.5 tackles for loss on the year and I expect that number to rise on Thursday night. Quarterback John Wolford is going to face consistent pressure throughout the night, and due to sacks and our poor run game I expect us to have fewer than 0 rush yards in the game. I'm not trying to be negative, but it's going to be very difficult just to earn first downs against this defense. Clemson doesn't have elite defensive backs, but because of the front 7 it really doesn't matter.
Prediction sure to go wrong
Wake Forest 3
I'll be out there with the BSD crew supporting the Deacs (#WinTheTailgate), but I don't expect Wake Forest fans to leave BB&T Field happy. Wake played very well against Louisville, and led Florida State after the first quarter. Let's see if the Deacs come out on fire against a top 25 opponent.