We have known the opponents for quite some time, but today the Atlantic Coast Conference officially unveiled the 2016 conference football schedule. Below, in case you missed it, is Wake's 2016 schedule. With the exception of the home-opener against Tulane, all games will be on Saturdays. Below the schedule, I'll share my thoughts on the schedule. Please note that all home games are in ALL CAPS.
|Opponent||Date||2015 Record||2015 S&P+ Rank|
My initial reaction is that Wake's schedule couldn't have been much more favorable. Obviously it would be nice if Florida State and Clemson weren't so good, but we knew they were going to be on the schedule.
TULANE - 9/1
I usually see Wake Forest open its home slate with an FCS opponent, but this year it will be Tulane. Tulane was not a very good team last year, but they have a new head coach in Willie Fritz, who did a very nice job at Georgia Southern. He primarily runs a triple-option attack, so from that standpoint it will be good to have a lot of fall camp to be able to prepare for option principles. It also helps that the coach hasn't had much time to get his desired personnel into his program.
at Duke - 9/10
This is a big opportunity for Wake. Duke does not open its season until September 3rd, so Wake will have a few extra days to prepare for this one. Wake made it interesting against Duke last season, but came up short. In year three under Dave Clawson, this should be a great measuring stick game.
DELAWARE - 9/17
It will be nice to have an FCS game here. Delaware only beat Elon by 4 points last season, so I have to think this should be a relatively easy win for the Demon Deacons. It will also potentially give Wake Forest some extra time to prepare for a road trip to Indiana.
at Indiana - 9/24
This will be a challenging game considering that Indiana beat Wake Forest in Winston-Salem last year, but Indiana lost their quarterback due to graduation. However, they do return an abundance of skill position players. Still, it's a winnable road game, and Wake doesn't have much to lose in this one.
at NC State - 10/1
The home game against State was absolutely brutal last year. I made the drive in to Winston-Salem from Nashville, and found myself back at the tailgate before the end of the first quarter. State's offensive attack is potent, and it doesn't help that they are coming off of a BYE. It's another winnable game, but Wake routinely struggles in Raleigh.
SYRACUSE - 10/8
Wake Forest hosts Syracuse in what will be a battle of former Bowling Green head coaches. Dino Babers has brought excitement to Syracuse, and will probably also bring tempo, but he will be in just year one of his rebuild. Wake Forest should have won at Syracuse last year, but Cortez Lewis lost his composure in the second half, and the team fell apart after that. This is a critically important game for the Deacs. I think it also helps Wake just a little bit that Syracuse is playing Notre Dame the week before.
at Florida State - 10/15
Wake was very competitive against Florida State this past year, but I don't see them keeping this one very close down in Tally.
BYE Week - 10/22
This is a very good time for a bye. It's after a seven-game stretch, and will be after a physical matchup against the Seminoles. It also gives Wake a little bit of extra time to prepare for Army's option, and takes place before consecutive home games.
ARMY - 10/29
Wake Forest one this game last year on a game-winning field goal as time expired from Mike Weaver. Hopefully it's not as close this year, and Wake can move the ball at will against them. However, we still don't know who Wake's starting quarterback will be. This is a game Wake absolutely should win.
VIRGINIA - 11/5
Virginia's schedule is very back loaded, and Wake catches them during a run of games against Pittsburgh, North Carolina, Louisville, (at Wake), then Miami. Virginia could get worn down during that stretch, and it's an advantage for Wake who will be recently off of a bye week. Virginia was not very disciplined under Mike London, but Bronco Mendenhall should help correct that. It will be a competitive game, but Wake Forest should be favored in this one.
at Louisville - 11/12
Wake came close against Louisville this past year, and also came very close in 2014 in Louisville. Lamar Jackson is going to be very difficult to contain, and Louisville will be a decent favorite in this one.
CLEMSON - 11/19
There's sugar coating this one. It's going to be an incredibly difficult game. I guess it's possible that Clemson overlooks Wake prior to their contest against South Carolina, but they have such an unbelievable amount of talent on this roster. I'm not looking forward to this one.
BOSTON COLLEGE - 11/26
It's about damn time that the ACC schedule makers finally put #therivalry in its rightful place. Last year these two squared off in what some consider to be the worst game of the year. I thought it was beautiful, because I think every Wake Forest football game that ends with them scoring more points than the opposition is beautiful. It was Wake's lone ACC win of the season, and Wake has scored just nine points over the course of its two ACC wins under Dave Clawson. Hopefully Wake Forest will already be bowl eligible at this point in the season, but if they are sitting at five wins, this game presents an outstanding opportunity to seal the deal at home, and become bowl eligible for the first time under Dave Clawson.
Those are some of my more detailed thoughts. What do you all think?