Dave Clawson has accomplished countless positive things for the Wake Forest football program. He has helped raise significant funds to improve the program’s facilities, brought in some of the best recruiting classes in program history, and turned a team void of offensive talent into a bowl winner by his third year. One thing that he hasn’t done at Wake Forest, however, is beat one of the premier teams in the Atlantic Division. That can all change this Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at BB&T Field when the Demon Deacons host the Florida State Seminoles.
Much has been made about Wake Forest being undefeated and Florida State being winless, but don’t fool yourself about the Noles. They are still one of the better teams in the nation, and will be favored in nearly all of their remaining games despite the 0-2 start. In addition to being one of the best teams, they are also one of the best and most recognizable programs. They won a national title with Jameis Winston in January of 2014, were in the College Football Playoff a year later, and won the Orange Bowl last season. Given that Florida State perennially recruits at a top 5 level and has achieved all of those accolades, one might think that Wake Forest will be a serious underdog in this game, even though they are at home. That is not the case in year four of Dave Clawson’s tenure in Winston-Salem. The Vegas oddsmakers opened the line with Florida State as a 9.5, but it has been bet down to 7.5 points. This is a significant improvement from the 18 point spread that it was just 2 years ago. Historically speaking, teams that are 7.5 point underdogs still win outright 27% of the time. While those aren’t the best odds, 27% means that there is a very realistic chance that the Deacs pull off the upset on Saturday. What would that mean for the program?
In the immediate future, it would all but guarantee Wake Forest’s second consecutive bowl berth, and would keep the Deacs alive for a very dark horse chance at an Atlantic Division crown. In the slightly more long term, this could have a great impact on recruiting. Les Johns of Scout/247 (#synergies) has reported that a host of talented prospects will be in the stands on Saturday afternoon. A win win over FSU would take Wake to another level in recruiting. Bowl wins over Temple are worth something, but FSU has a national brand and this game is nationally televised on ABC. I promise that we would get the attention of blue chip recruits. Those recruiting wins can lead to to legitimate long term gains.
Recruiting wins will translate to more wins, which will translate to more donations, which will translate to a better recruiting budget, which will lead to even more talented Wake Forest teams in the coming years. The domino effect in recruiting is far too real.
I would argue that this is Wake Forest’s biggest home game since 2011 when a 5-3 Wake Forest team hosted Notre Dame at 8 p.m. on ABC. If it wasn’t that game, then it was just several weeks prior when the Deacs hosted the very same Seminoles, and knocked them off by a score of 35-30. It’s not just big because this is Florida State. It’s big because this is Florida State and the Deacons have a very realistic chance of taking down the Noles.
Ned said it far better than I could, but please get out there on Saturday and cheer on the Deacs. If you don’t already have tickets, you can buy them here. It’s all upside on Saturday. I believe that the team will be ready, and I hope that you all are as well. Go Deacs!