So last week was ugly.
Like really, really ugly.
Like eating week old KFC because you can’t find your car keys and you swear you have nothing else in the fridge ugly.
The Deacs’ leading passer threw for 79 yards. The leading rusher racked up 28. And Wake had a time of possession of 10 minutes less than one of the bottom feeders in the AAC.
Through Week 1, Wake Forest is 124th in pass offense, 114th in rush offense, and dead last in total offense. 1-0 THOUGH!— Riley Johnston (@BSD_RaJohnston) September 6, 2016
But the only thing that matters at the end of the day is that they’re 1-0 heading into Durham this Saturday and have an extra two days to prepare than the Blue Devils do. I’ll be honest I’m willing to accept for now the idea that Clawson didn’t want to show off too many packages and formations that Duke could scout against in last week’s game. It’s one of the only explanations why the team could look relatively competent moving the football all camp long and in the 1st quarter only to be completely dominated in the 2nd half against a weaker defense. That excuse won’t work after next week, but it’s good enough for me to sleep at night today.
So let’s look statistically at our upcoming opponent and some of the basic facts you should know coming into the game against our hated royal blue rivals.
Five Fast Facts:
Series of Streaks: After losing 12 straight against the Demon Deacons at the start of the millennium, the Blue Devils are putting together a nice little streak of their own in the series taking all four since 2012. Duke now leads the all-time rivalry 57-37-2 that dates all the way back to 1889. With a little bit of research I discovered that that season Duke won a game by the final score of 8-4. I hear ESPN has retroactively labeled it an Instant Classic for what is now called “The Safety Bowl.”
Slugfest: Be sure to keep an eye on the over/under Vegas line this weekend, as the two teams have averaged 61.5 points per contest in the 2010’s. Despite Wake’s offensive struggles last Thursday, Duke is actually the only team Wake has hit 20 points in a game against in all of the last 9 seasons. If you’re betting against the Deacs putting up points on the board this Saturday, you’re betting against history here.
Ground and Pound: Duke quite literally ran all over FCS foes NC Central last weekend on their way to a 49-6 victory at Wallace Wade. Five guys had individual rushes of 10+ yards and the Blue Devils finished up with 308 yards and 4 TDs total at the end of the day. I’d expect a similar run-heavy approach this weekend as Duke freshman QB Daniel Jones still has yet to throw a pass against a legitimate collegiate defense. Senior RB Jela Duncan, who has averaged over 5 yards per carry in each of his seasons in Durham, is the man to look out for here.
Momentum Opportunities: It took Wake just three and a half quarters to record their first turnover of the season last Thursday, a far contrast from the 5 game drought to start 2015. This is important considering Duke was actually -3 in the Turnover Margin against NC Central despite winning by 43 points last week (I didn’t think that was possible either) with five fumbles lost. After a 2015 season where turnovers plagued multiple Demon Deacon comebacks, maybe Saturday could feature a different storyline where the momentum shifts in our favor.
Throw that Yellow Flag: Is discipline a potential problem for the Blue Devils? Duke was one of the most penalized teams in the nation in Week 1 with 10 flags thrown on them for a total of 85 yards. For reference, the most penalized team in the nation in 2015 (Miami) averaged a total of 83.63 penalty YPG. Of course, a lot of it may have been players just getting the rust off, but discipline is certainly something to look into over the weekend.
Johnny Football?: If there was ever a game for John Wolford to win over the Wake Forest fanbase, it’s probably this weekend. In his two collegiate appearances against Duke he has averaged 292 YPG, 2.5 TDs, and completed 66% of his passes. His 2nd and 4th highest QBRs in career ACC starts have come against Duke and he’ll be looking to have another breakout performance in the rivalry once again on Saturday.
What Vegas Thinks: Right now the line is Duke -5 after opening at Duke -8.5. After seeing the differences in performances in Week 1, I have to say I’m surprised it is this close heading into today.
After opening at +8.5, the line already down to Wake +5 at Duke.— Jake (@BloggerSoDear) September 4, 2016
What the Computer Thinks: ESPN’s Football Power Index puts it at a 70.7% chance for Duke to win Saturday. Personally, I’d put it at about 2⁄3 in favor of Duke so I’ll buy what the computer is selling this week.
Tweet of the Week: Tabari’s mindset here is all I need to get ready. Take it one game at a time and get the job done.
That’s all for the WF Football stat preview this week. Let’s hope the Deacs were simply saving up for a big show against our rivals on Saturday. Thanks for reading everybody and Go Deacs!
For more Wake Forest sports statistics you can follow me on Twitter @DeacFan3.