Wake Forest opens the 2016 college football season tomorrow when they take on the Tulane Green Wave in Winston-Salem. For the past week, Blogger So Dear has covered what to expect from both teams, analyzed the matchups carefully, and discussed what fans should expect to see from Wake over the course of the year. Today we jump in specifically to staff predictions to see what the writers believe will happen tomorrow night as the season finally gets under way. Let’s take a look:
Bart: The Deacs open this game as a 17 point favorite at home and will look to secure a much-needed win in the opener to get the season off on the right foot. If the Deacs want to go bowling, this is likely a must win even though there are still 11 games to follow. Wake has more talent than Tulane and the Green Wave are projected to be one of the bottom ten teams in the FBS by several sites as they bring in a new coach, install a new offense, and look to improve upon a defense who was exposed on a regular basis last season en route to a 3-9 year. The game may start slow, but I expect Wake to assert its dominance over the course of the 60 minutes and move to a 1-0 record.
Samurai: We housed our first foe last year and I don't really see this year being different. I'll be keeping a close eye on the line play and the ground game. In those respects, nowhere to go but up... I hope. Dear God I hope.
Grumpy: I expect to see a dominant performance that lets me believe a 6-6 season is possible, and I think the defense won't have any problem doing its part. On offense, I want to see the #10 and #2 jerseys pretty darn close to spotless at the end of the game, and at least one of the RBs step up and have a great game.
Chris: Though I'm high on this year's crop of freshmen, and we return a great group of players, this will be the week to shake the rust off. Limiting turnovers will be absolutely key this season, and hopefully that will be the focus in week 1. I'd like to see the training wheels taken off the offense, and the playbook opened up with some better blocking schemes. This should be an easy game regardless.
Rob: Perhaps being a bit pessimistic here, but Tulane has a a good group of linebackers and a very impressive nose tackle in Tanzel Smart. He isn't a great pass rusher, but he had 15 tackles for loss last season, so Wake may have to double team him at times. Smart's presence could cause make running up the middle difficult, so hopefully we scheme around that and don't get off schedule. Ultimately, after a slow start, I believe that Wake will come alive and get our receivers the ball in space, and they'll take it from there. Tulane has a good complement of backs, so I expect someone like Dontrell HIlliard to break a long run. Still, I like to Deacs to win comfortably and take care of the business in the opener. Hopefully it's an ever more impressive victory.
Bridgers: I think the Deacs come out a little sloppy in the 1st quarter and struggle to get the ball moving on offense. By the time the second half rolls around they start clicking and finally look the team we thought we would have before the game starts. As far as defense, none of Tulane's QBs have ever thrown a collegiate pass, and our run defense is pretty solid. With that, I'm not really worried about Tulane putting a ton of points on the board. I think the Deacs win comfortably so this game to me is all about finding out if the Deacs can finally find a way to be successful in the running game and protecting the QB.
Riley: Both teams want to come out and establish the run, but both defenses are also the strengths of the team. I don't see Tulane establishing much of a running game at all, especially with the strong defensive end play to stifle the pitches, tosses and edge run plays. I think Ejiofor is going to have a really big game, and Dunn excels in stopping the run as well. Carney goes for 65 yards+ and the Deacs win this one with ease.
Ned: New coaches at struggling programs rarely ever have a strong first season. Players adjusting to new playbooks, coaching staffs, and their overall role in the team often leads to some rough first games for teams in transition. Tulane should be no different. Wolford has a solid game as QB1, but Hinton continues to dazzle and win over the fanbase as the Deacs cruise.
Vegas Line: Wake -17
Vegas Projected Score: 30-13 Wake
BSD Average Score: 30-11 Wake
The BSD crew unanimously believes Wake will move to 1-0 and is slightly more optimistic than Vegas on Wake’s defense (although marginally so). These predictions are to be expected as a 17 point favorite wins over 85% of the time. Perhaps one person should have gone with the Tulane upset so BSD could conform to the Vegas averages!
So there you have it: Wake will win 30-11 and you don’t even need to watch the game (but you should anyway just in case). We will be tracking each writer’s performance as the season progresses so all the readers know exactly who they can rely on week in and week out to give an accurate prediction of the game.
What are your predictions? Let us know below and also let us know if there are any questions, comments, or concerns. Kickoff is tomorrow - let’s go! And as always, go Deacs!