Following an 8-5 season and second straight bowl win, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons are poised to potentially make some noise in 2018, and the first release of the S&P Rankings tend to agree with that.
Wake Forest currently sits at 34th in the first preseason S&P projections by Bill Connelly. The Deacs finished 2017 in 37th, so this is a slight move up in the first rankings.
The Deacs rank 67th in “Recruiting Impact”, 20th in “Returning Production”, and 83rd in “Weighted Five-Year Rank”.
This is how the rankings work, from Bill himself:
The preseason S&P+ projections are a simple mix of three factors: recent history, returning production, and recruiting. To come up with 130-team projections, I create projected ratings based on each factor. Here’s how the process works:
Recruiting is easy. I create a rating based on these two-year recruiting rankings. The recruiting-based projection makes up about a quarter of the overall S&P+ projection.
For returning production, I apply projected changes (based on each team’s returning offensive and defensive production, which are on different scales) to last year’s S&P+ averages. The projection based on returning production accounts for a little more than 50 percent.
For recent history, I get a little weird. I found last year that the previous year’s S&P+ ratings — which make up the starting point for the returning production figures — were carrying a little too much weight. So what you see below is a projection based solely off of seasons two to five years ago. Recent history now carries less weight in the overall formulas, under 20 percent.
Wake Forest ranks as the 6th best team in the ACC, and 4th in the Atlantic Division (because the divisions are completely and totally fair in football....).
Here are the ACC Rankings overall:
13. Miami (FL)
18. Florida State
21. Virginia Tech
34. Wake Forest
37. N.C. State
48. Boston College
51. North Carolina
53. Georgia Tech
The ACC is ranked as the second best conference overall based on averages, trailing only the SEC. Top to bottom the ACC appears to be stronger than it has been in quite some time. While it may not be as top heavy as it has been the past 3-4 years, the floor at 73 is pretty good compared to where it has been recently.
Now these are simply a projection given some data points that are usually predictive, so Wake will still need to, you know, actually play and win the games, but the fact that statistics like the Deacs is always a good feeling to have, especially in early February.
Here is a quick look at Wake’s schedule this year and where each team ranks:
@ Tulane (98th)
Boston College (48th)
Notre Dame (7th)
@ Florida State (18th)
@ Louisville (29th)
@ N.C. State (37th)
@ Duke (40th)
Just going by ranking there appear to be a ton of toss-up games for the Deacs this year, including road games at Louisville, State, and Duke, as well as home games against Pitt and Boston College. All of these teams are within 16 spots of each other, and that makes up 5 of the 12 games the Deacs play.
I would guess that the over/under for wins this season for Wake will be 6.5, but that could change based on injuries and/or how spring practice goes.
Overall this is a fun first look at where teams stand heading into next year, and this is yet another reason for optimism for the 2018 football season, where the Deacs will seek to make a third straight bowl for the second time in school history (2006-2008), and also try to become the first ever Wake Forest team to win three bowls in a row in consecutive seasons.