With the start of the Wake Forest football season just eight days away, thus ending the traditional long summer of discontent sans Wake Forest athletics, the BSD Staff sat down and thought about what we expected to see from a results perspective in 2016 on the gridiron.
The staff considered what the overall record for the Deacs would be, the final ACC record, what bowl game the Deacs would go to (if applicable), and where Wake would finish in the ever-competitive Atlantic Division.
Without further ado, let’s jump in and see what the team had to say:
Ned: The Deacs enter 2016 with possibly the easiest schedule they are going to have for a long, long time. With 7 games at BB&T Field this season, including 3 against some of the weakest teams in the ACC, its bowl or bust time for Dave Clawson and company. I think Wake gets off to a quick 3-0 start highlighted by a big win over the Blue Devils in Durham before hitting a mid-season slump against @Indiana, @NC State, Syracuse, and @FSU.
The UVA game is sneakily the key to the season for me; win that and you have a decent chance to get to 6 at home against Boston College in the final game of the year. A loss would require the Deacs to steal one from UL or Clemson on the road, which I just don't think is possible right now given the talent gap. Of course, the more games you win early on, the less pressure there is late in the season to have to play at a high level consistently for 60 minutes. Oh and I'll see you all in Tampa for our big victory over the "Ghosts of Paxton Lynch's Past" on December 26 as well.
Regular Season Record: 6-6 (3-5 in the ACC with wins over UVA, BC, and Duke)
Bowl: Trip to the St. Petersburg Bowl vs. Memphis (6-6/7-5 AAC team).
Grumpy: Going under .500 this year would be a big disappointment. Like others have said, the schedule is very favorable. On top of that, Clawson has had two seasons (three offseasons) to implement his philosophy. The "easiest" route I see to 6-6 involves winning every non-Clemson home game: Tulane, Delaware, Syracuse, Army, UVA, and BC. There may be a tiny bit of room for error, as I wouldn't be shocked to see Wake pick up one of the road games at Duke, Indiana, or NC State.
Regular Season Record: 6-6 (3-5 in the ACC with wins over Cuse, UVA, and BC); 5th in the Atlantic.
Bowl: A return to the Military Bowl (well, when we won it in 2008 it was called the EagleBank Bowl, but whatever).
Samurai: I'm gonna guess 6-6. 3-5 ACC, 6th in Atlantic, TaxSlayer Bowl, I suppose.
Basically, our schedule is very, very favorable. I can see us beating any of UVA, Cuse, or BC at home. Maybe even State on the road. None of these games are gimmies though so I take nothing for granted. I could be off. The ACC record I was really conflicted on but I'm fairly confident in 6-6.
Chris: I'll be optimistic and say we go 7-5. 6-6 feels more likely given the slow trajectory of the program, and 5-7 isn't out of the realm of possibility, but this feels like a nice comeback year with the easy schedule and a couple good recruiting classes in a row. In order to win seven games, the Deacs will have to win at least 5 home games, and probably six, but I think Duke and State are potential road wins as well. I'll call a 4-4 conference record with wins over Syracuse, UVA, BC, and NC State. 7-5 with our weak schedule in a year with the ACC top-heavy again probably doesn't get us a great bowl, but for Wake fans, it'd just be nice to get the opportunity again. Music City would be a good spot to land in that case.
Bart: 2016 is a big year for Wake Forest football. Despite only matching the win total in 2015 from the previous season (3 wins), the team was far more competitive and had legitimate chances to knock off both Louisville and Florida State in Winston before ultimately falling. With the program trending upwards and 2017 beginning to look more and more like a season where Wake can legitimately target 7+ wins, 2016 serves as a critical stepping stone both from a growing and confidence perspective for the team.
You're never going to find an easier OOC schedule than the Deacs have pieced together this year, with the best of the four teams (Indiana) likely to only be favored by a touchdown or so in Bloomington. The other three games against Tulane, Delaware, and Army are games that Wake Forest should expect to win and win handily. With the Vegas line at 5.5 and Wake directly on the cut line for a bowl game I think the Deacs will rise to the challenge and go 6-6. This includes going, conservatively, 3-1 in the aforementioned non-conference portion of the schedule and then picking up three wins in conference play - an immensely doable task. While I realize this covers a large portion of the potential outcomes, I'll make the outrageous prediction that the Deacs could easily wind up 5-7, 6-6, or 7-5 and it would not be too surprising. Let's get it done and return bowling for the first time since 2011.
If Wake goes 6-6 (3-5 ACC), I expect the Deacs to be shipped down to Shreveport where they would play an SEC team. I’ll predict a reprisal of the last bowl game Wake made and say it will be against Mississippi State - ensuring most Wake fans will not attend the game as I think we all still have slight PTSD from the cowbells that were almost quite literally EVERYWHERE in Nashville.
So there you have the predictions from the BSD staff. How do you all think the upcoming season will play out for Wake Forest? Let us know below and if you have any questions, comments, or concerns drop us a line or shoot us an email. As always, go Deacs.