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Wake Forest vs Duke: Preview

Can the Deacs finish the season with a win?

Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons cannot earn a bowl berth, but they still have an opportunity to finish the season on a high note. The Deacs host the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson will look to send the handful of Wake Forest seniors out with a win, and generate a lot of positive momentum headed into the offseason. How do these two teams matchup?

The Duke Blue Devils started off the season 6-1 after a thrilling a 4 overtime victory over Virginia Tech. However, they have not won a game since. It's seems fairly apparent that the infamous ending the the Miami-Duke game had a negative impact on Duke's psyche. They have lost all three of their games since the Miami game, and those games were statistically their three worst performances of the season.

Duke features a dual threat starting quarterback in Thomas Sirk. Sirk has carried the ball 117 times this season and averages more than 5 yards per carry. However, he is completing less than 60% of his passes on the season. Duke is 91st nationally in passing S&P+. The top receiver to watch is Max McCaffrey. He has 43 catches for 508 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Duke's defense is very good against the run, especially at preventing explosive run plays. They are 39th nationally in rushing S&P+ defense, including 2nd nationally at preventing explosive plays. Wake Forest has been quite bad this season at running the ball. They continue to try and pound the ball to "establish the run," but that very often results in Wake's offense getting behind schedule. Honestly, I would almost look to completely abandon the run game.

While the Blue Devils have a good run defense, they are poor at defending the pass. They are 90th at S&P+ pass defense, and 120th at allowing explosive plays. Wake needs to look to get the ball out of the hands of both John Wolford and Kendall Hinton, and into the hands of Cortez Lewis, Chuck Wade, KJ Brent, and Cam Serigne, among others. Wake's best chance at winning clearly involves getting playmakers the ball in space.

This is a classic "kitchen sink" game where Wake Forest should break out as many trick plays as they have to win the game. They need to be aggressive. A win for Wake Forest in this game would be massive for this program headed into the offseason. It would mean that Wake Forest improved in the win column from a year ago, and generate a lot of positive discussion for recruiting purposes. I firmly believe the Wake Forest staff and players recognize the importance of this game and will bring great energy and emotion to the game.

I'll take Wake to win in a close one.

A lot of the Blogger So Dear staff will be at this one. Come out and join us in the lot. As always, go Deacs!