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History 101: Wake Forest & Utah State

Will Wake avenge its 2014 loss?

NCAA Football: Utah State at Wisconsin Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

After a successful business trip to Boston last week, the Deacs are back home welcoming Utah State to town.

Utah State Aggies: Win-Loss Records

All-Time: 525–517–31 (.504)

Past Decade: 59-68 (.465)

Last Season: 3-9

This Season: 1-1

Series History

Utah State is undefeated against Wake Forest, after beating the Deacs 36-24 in 2014 in the only prior matchup between these teams.

Wake went up 7-0 in the first quarter when Josh Bush returned an interception 72 yards for a score. Unfortunately, the Deacs then gave up 29 unanswered points before halftime. The loss contributed to the Deacs going 2-2 in the non-conference schedule in 2014, before losing their first six straight ACC games en route to a 3-9 finish (with the sole conference win being the legendary 6-3 OT win against VT).

Trends and Significance

USU is trying to work their way back to the glory years they experienced from 2012-2014, when they went 30-11 and were briefly nationally-ranked. Since then, they’ve gone 6-7 and 3-9. They’ve started this year 1-1 with a loss to a Power 5 team in Wisconsin followed by a blowout of Idaho State before this week’s test against the Deacs.

That might give Aggies fans a sense of deja vu - in 2014, the Aggies lost big in week 1 to Tennessee then easily handled Idaho State before facing Wake. The home win over the Deacs gave Utah State its only Power 5 win of the year and helped spark the team to a 10-4 record. USU kicks off its conference schedule next week, and this game is the difference between heading into conference play 2-1 with a win over a P5 opponent or 1-2.

Meanwhile, for the Deacs this one of a few true “should win” matchups on the schedule. With such a narrow path to bowl eligibility, this is the kind of game Wake can’t afford to give away. The good news is, I doubt the team will be taking this game for granted. The 2014 matchup was John Wolford’s third game as a Deac, and he had a rough night. It was also the third game played at Wake for guys like Cam Serigne, Wendell Dunn, Grant Dawson, Duke Ejiofor, and Zeek Rodney - and the third game coached by Dave Clawson after replacing Jim Grobe.

In all honesty, the 2014 Wake squad was totally outplayed by Utah State. Wolford threw for 2 TDs and 2 INTs (including a pick 6) on 40% passing while taking six sacks. The team rushed for a total of -25 yards, with Isaiah Robinson ending up as the only Deac with positive yards on the ground (9 rushes for 13 yards, 1.4 ypc). On the other side of the ball, the defense gave up 29 unanswered points to close the first half and ultimately surrended almost 400 yards of offense. Wake also committed 10 penalties for over 100 yards.

All in all, I suspect Coach Clawson and the senior leaders on the team have plenty of motivation not to overlook this game; hopefully that translates into a second consecutive 3-0 start for Wake. Let’s get some revenge and keep this season rolling. Go Deacs!