Anyone that reads this blog is fully aware that our Wake Forest Demon Deacon football team kicked off the season in style with a 23-17 road win over Tulane on Thursday night. However, they may not be aware of how Wake’s remaining opponents performed in week one. Each week I will break down the Deacon opponents’ week and overall season performance so you that you don’t have to. Consider this a one stop shop for all things related to teams that appear on Wake’s twelve-game schedule.
Additionally, each team’s profile in this installment will include their current, updated S&P ranking and Sagarin ranking. For this week, both rankings reflect the team’s position entering week one as games remain to be played this weekend (and Sagarin generally does not update until Mondays).
Sagarin ranks all Division 1 teams - both FBS and FCS - while S&P ranks all FBS teams. Similarly, Sagarin includes the raw ratings number for each team which roughly translates to an expected line for any game between two teams - this number will be included each week to show how an approximation of how Wake would be expected to fare against each team if they played that day. This rating also accounts for homefield advantage (approximately a 2.4 benefit to the home team).
This week: Lost at home to Wake Forest 23-17
S&P Ranking: 96th; Sagarin Ranking: 95th
Next opponent: Home against Nicholls
As we all know, Tulane’s upset bid of the Deacs fell just short and Tulane opened the season with a loss. They now turn to play Nicholls at home in an intra-state rivalry which could be more daunting than many Green Wave fans would have liked as Nicholls upset (quasi) P5 team Kansas 26-23 in overtime to start the year.
This week: Won at home against Morgan State 36-10
S&P Ranking: Not Available (FCS team); Sagarin Ranking: 186th
Next Opponent: Road against Wake Forest
Towson, led by Tom Flacco - younger brother of Joe Flacco, took care of business at home against Morgan State in their home opener. Morgan State is one of the worst teams in Division I, but all you can do is beat the team in front of you and the Tigers did just that. Wake will be a heavy favorite entering this week’s noon kickoff.
Projected Sagarin Line: Wake Forest -32.5
Boston College (1-0)
This week: Won at home against Massachusetts 55-21
S&P Ranking: 47th; Sagarin Ranking: 31st
Next Opponent: Home against Holy Cross
The Eagles looked excellent opening at home against the Minutemen this weekend, cruising to a 34 point victory even though the closing line settled at 17.5. With this margin of victory,the Eagles will likely jump up a few spots in the computer rankings and this upcoming ACC opener for the Deacs is going to be an absolute battle. With the Crusaders coming to Chestnut Hill next week, the Wake-BC game is likely to pit two 2-0 teams against one another under the Thursday night ESPN lights from Winston-Salem. Strap up everyone this should be fun.
Projected Sagarin Line: Wake Forest +4
Notre Dame (1-0):
This week: Won at home against Michigan 24-17
S&P Ranking: 9th; Sagarin Ranking: 20th
Next Opponent: Home against Ball State
In one of the week’s most anticipated matchups pitting two top 15 teams against one another, the Irish held serve at home in a game they largely dominated throughout. Notre Dame is one of the top three teams the Deacs will play all year and this was always going to be a serious challenge for Wake. I was very impressed with how the Irish looked last night and expect this week four matchup in Winston to be one of the largest crowds in Wake Forest history.
Projected Sagarin line: Wake Forest +8
This week - Lost at home against Houston 45-27
S&P Ranking: 127th; Sagarin Ranking: 160th
Next Opponent: Road against Hawaii
Rice opened the season in questionable fashion, barely edging Prairie View A&M at home with a last second field goal 31-28. The Owls did bounce back, going into the half tied with Houston this weekend in a game in which they were nearly 30 point underdogs, before faltering in the second half. Rice is the second worst team Wake will play this year and is the fourth-worst rated FBS team in the country. Rice’s schedule doesn’t get any easier this week as they travel to Hawaii to square off against a Rainbow Warrior squad who is 2-0 fresh off a convincing 59-41 win over Navy.
Projected Sagarin Line: Wake Forest -27.5
This week - Won at home against Furman 48-7
S&P Ranking: 2nd; Sagarin Ranking: 3rd
Next Opponent: Road against Texas A&M
National championship contender Clemson took care of business against FCS Furman with a 41 point victory in a game that was never seriously going to be in question (and was not). They now turn their attention to College Station where Gameday will be in attendance for a top 25 battle. Fortunately, Wake gets Clemson at home this season but unfortunately the Tigers are still very very good and this game is going to be quite a tall task to come out with a victory.
Projected Sagarin Line: Wake Forest +19.5
Florida State (0-0)
This week - Virginia Tech Monday Night
S&P Ranking: 19th; Sagarin Ranking: 8th
Next Opponent: Virginia Tech Monday Night
Florida State doesn’t play until Labor Day when it opens up ACC play against the Hokies.
Projected Sagarin Line: Wake Forest +17
This week - Lost in Orlando against Alabama 51-14
S&P Ranking: 26th; Sagarin Ranking: 27th
Next Opponent: Home against Indiana State
We didn’t learn too much about Louisville in this opener that we didn’t already know: they are considerably worse than Alabama who is still the cream of the crop in college football. Petrino has some work to do to get his guys back in line after this absolute beatdown, but he should be able to get on track with Indiana State cruising into town. Louisville will surely want revenge against the Wake Forest Fighting Dortches after their defense was not exactly the Russians at Stalingrad.
Projected Sagarin Line: Wake Forest +9.5
This week - Won on road against Western Michigan 55-42
S&P Ranking: 80th; Sagarin Ranking: 76th
Next Opponent: Home against Wagner
The Orange played one of the more exciting games you may not have heard about this weekend, knocking off the Broncos from Western Michigan on the road 55-42. QB Eric Dungey sparked quite the controversy in back to back plays after he shoved a Bronco player on the sideline before attempting to pick up a defender after the next play - setting off a brawl that saw each team have a player ejected. Dungey also ran for 200 yards and is an absolute beast for opposing defenses to stop. Wake will have their work cut out for them containing Dungey if he can remain healthy.
Projected Sagarin Line: Wake Forest -8
NC State (1-0): This week - Won at home against James Madison 24-13
S&P Ranking: 36th; Sagarin Ranking: 26th
Next Opponent: Home against Georgia State
The Wolfpack won their home opener against FCS powerhouse James Madison but also suffered several injuries which we will closely follow to see if they impact State over the course of the season. The Dukes were within four points late until State put together an impressive final drive culminating in a touchdown to drive a stake in JMU’s hopes. This type of game is exactly why I always advocate for Wake to play the weakest possible FCS team they can find each year - a win is a win and there’s no reason to put the guaranteed FCS victory in question.
Projected Sagarin Line: Wake Forest +10.5
This week - Won at home against Albany 33-7
S&P Ranking: 50th; Sagarin Ranking: 45th
Next Opponent: Home against Penn State
The Demon Deacons finally play Pittsburgh in football this year - years after the Panthers entered the conference. That said, Pitt is a team that I hardly know anything about but winning 33-7 at home against the Great Danes does not exactly instill any confidence in the team overall based on one game. They get their last shot at Penn State for a while this weekend and will hope they can exploit some of the areas Appalachian State did in pushing the Nittany Lions to OT in Happy Valley.
Projected Sagarin Line: Wake Forest -1
This week - Won at home against Army 34-14
S&P Ranking: 38th; Sagarin Ranking: 38th
Next Opponent: Road against Northwestern
The Blue Devils looked impressive at times against a potent Army offense and used several explosive plays on offense to keep the Black Knights at bay. They get a decent test this week traveling to Northwestern in a game where I expect the Blue Devils to be approximately a touchdown underdog. Wake doesn’t get their shot at Duke for a long time so it’s likely that this is a completely different team in November than it is now.
Projected Sagarin Line: Wake +7
What did you find interesting about this weekend’s games for Wake’s opponents? Any games that you thought would be easy that you are now nervous about or, even better, any games you thought would be difficult that you are feeling better about? Let us know below. And as always, go Deacs!