The opening kickoff is just two weeks away and have had articles that take a look at the team and the coaching, but what about the schedule??? It is obvious to most people that follow Wake Forest football that this year will likely not be on that ends in a division or conference championship, but is it one that could end in a bowl game? Scheduling usually goes a long way in terms of determining that.
With that in mind, this article breaks down the schedule in terms of easiest games to toughest games. Unlike most teams that are competing for conference and national championships, one competing for a bowl game usually looks at the ranking of a schedule inversely compared to a team with higher aspirations.
While it is likely that Boston College, Syracuse, Indiana, and N.C. State are the most important games as to whether or not there will be postseason play, they are not the hardest opponents that the Deacs will play this year.
2. @Army (4-8)
3. @Syracuse (3-9, 1-7)
4. @Boston College (7-6, 4-4)
5. Indiana (4-8, 1-7)
6. N.C. State (8-5, 3-5)
7. Louisville (9-4, 5-3)
8. Duke (9-4, 5-3)
9. @North Carolina (6-7, 4-4)
10. Florida State (13-1, 8-0)
11. @Notre Dame (8-5)
12. @Clemson (10-3, 6-2)
Total 2014 Record: 82- 71
The first thing that really sticks out to the schedule is that most of the easy games come in the first two months of the year. In fact, the five easiest games the Deacs have this year all come from the first six games of the season, with only Florida State ranking tougher.
The top two choices are pretty clear: the FBS team (Elon), and the military school (@Army). Wake and Army have played a few close contests in the past, so it's not a guaranteed victory by any stretch of the imagination, but it is still easier than the other two non-conference games and also Syracuse. If Wake had played Syracuse in Winston I may have considered flipping those two schools, but as is, Army takes the second spot.
After Syracuse comes Boston College. Now I know there are many out there that mock and taunt me for ranking BC so low on the list since it is a rivalry of epic proportions, but let's be honest, who the hell wants to watch Wake-BC play outside of these two devout, battled fan-bases? Exactly...
Indiana ranks fifth on the list, and other than some fiery words from their head coach earlier this year, there isn't a lot there. Indiana will be a tough game to win, but one the Deacs need to if they want to go bowling.
N.C. State and Louisville were games that could have gone either way on this ranking too. Louisville comes to Winston-Salem on a Friday night, and there is the Matt Colburn situation that I am sure the Wake Forest staff will look to exploit. On the other hand, N.C. State hasn't won in Winston-Salem this millennium, so the nod goes to State for the easier game. Both teams should make bowl games this year, so it's not like they are cakewalks by any stretch of the imagination.
Following these two games the rest of the schedule becomes very difficult to navigate and find victories. Duke and North Carolina have improved a lot the past few years (especially Duke). While UNC has underachieved on and off the field, they have a lot of talent and will be a very tough game down in Chapel Hill. Meanwhile David Cutcliffe has the Blue Devils playing its best football ever over the past five years. A win in either one of these two games would be a nice feather in Coach Clawson's hat.
The final three games are Florida State, @Notre Dame, and @Clemson. Quite frankly there is little to no chance of winning any of these three games. I don't mean to be negative at all, but Florida State is a year removed from a National Title. Notre Dame is Notre Dame, and Clemson is the likely representative from the ACC in the Playoff this year (assuming the ACC doesn't get left out).
Overall this is a pretty difficult schedule. There are easy games early on before a hellacious late October/entire month of November. A shot at bowl eligibility will be determined pretty early on for the Deacs, as they will need to win at least three out of their first four games against Elon, Syracuse, Army, and Indiana, to get in striking distance of 6 wins.
What do you guys think? Team too high? Team too low? Let me know, comments are always welcome!
|10/10||at Boston College|
|10/17||at North Carolina|
|11/14||at Notre Dame|