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Wake Forest Football: Fan Support, College Gameday, and BB&T Field in 2018

The atmosphere at BB&T Field this fall is set to be one of the best in program history.

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The Wake Forest fanbase hasn’t been this excited about Demon Deacon Football in a long, long time.

There’s a reason to be excited.

The Deacs are coming off back-to-back bowl winning seasons for the first time since 2007-08 and are now 16-11 in the past 2+ years. They’ve won a number of thrilling nail-biters over this period, going 7-2 in games decided by seven points or less since the start of the 2016 season. Add in the fact that this team now has multiple playmaking weapons on either side of the ball that can instantly change a game, and it’s no wonder why this program is so easy to get behind. Wake Forest Football’s culture has fundamentally changed from the ground up, and we as fans have the luxury of being able to change with it.

Last year had the highest attendance at BB&T Field of any season in the Clawson Era, finishing up at 28,436 fans/game (90.3% Capacity). This is including a Thursday night opener against FCS opponent Presbyterian and a Thanksgiving Saturday game against Duke, two calendar factors that usually play against the Avg Attendance mark when it’s all said and done. The fan support lift was noticeable on multiple occasions throughout the year, with games against FSU, Louisville, and NC State featuring some of the best atmospheres of the last decade in Winston-Salem.

I waited five years as a Wake fan (Est. 2012) to see the environment of WF vs NC State and experience the roar of a Black and Gold crowd as Demetrius Kemp forced a goal line fumble to seal the rivalry win. It may have taken longer than I thought it might when I first arrived on campus, but for those few minutes it didn’t matter; These were the types of memories that I signed up to be apart of when coming to this proud university. It still gives me chills just thinking about it.

When looking at this upcoming slate of games at BB&T Field, a few things pop out immediately that should make for a fun year. First and foremost, the fact that Wake hosts 7 matchups this season means there’s no excuse for local fans to not attend at least a few games to cheer on the Deacs in 2018. Two of those seven games will automatically be in the national spotlight with Notre Dame and Clemson coming to town, both of which should be guaranteed sellouts and also likely on national television.

I’ve heard from multiple people that the Boston College game is making a strong push to sell out as of late, and I highly suggest everyone in the area to get tickets if you haven’t already. A loud, impactful atmosphere will be absolutely critical against a talented BC team that is getting an unusual amount of hype heading into the ACC season. If Wake can take care of business at home against the Eagles, Week 4 against a ranked Notre Dame team has all the makings of a program-changing game that could propel the Deacs into the Top 25 for the first time since 2008.

And for those of you who like to fantasize a little bit about potential matchups, there is one, albeit slim, opportunity that Wake Forest could actually host College GameDay this year (gasp!). Here’s the scenario where everything could fall perfectly into place:

  • Wake Forest beats Towson and BC at home prior to hosting a massive matchup against a Top 15 Notre Dame side on NBC. The Deacs pull off the primetime upset in front of a sellout crowd, and proceed to beat Rice the following week. Hello, 5-0!
  • Clemson, currently #2 in the polls, has four straight games coming up where they should be double-digit favorites, with the most challenging one in College Station against A&M in Week 2. FPI gives the Tigers a 53% chance to enter Winston-Salem undefeated. I think that’s low given the sheer talent they have on the roster and the upcoming opponents (Texas A&M, GA Southern, Georgia Tech, and Syracuse).
  • If Wake Forest (5-0 and likely ranked 15-25) takes on Clemson (5-0 and #2 overall) in Winston-Salem, it would be one of the premier games in Week 6 of college football. Other potential Top 25 matchups include: Texas-Oklahoma, Miami-FSU, Auburn-Miss State, Notre Dame-Virginia Tech, LSU-Florida, and Washington-UCLA. The Red River Rivalry hasn’t had a College GameDay since Texas fell off the map (Last one in 2011), while Miami-FSU and Washington-UCLA might be a lot less enticing after all four of these programs started off the season with an L.

GameDay has also showed interest in going to schools that don’t traditionally host to change things up a few times a year, with 2017 featuring trips to Indiana/James Madison, 2016 traveling to Western Michigan, and 2015 going to Temple/Arizona. Wake Forest falls right in line with that, and Clemson’s massive national audience would help buoy ratings and publicity for the game. And if you’re worried about ESPN featuring Clemson on GameDay twice in a matter of weeks (It is showcasing Texas A&M v Clemson this weekend), just know that the Tigers have been featured on the show at least 3x every year since 2015. “Over-Clemsoning” isn’t really an issue to the College GameDay crew.

The odds that both Clemson and Wake Forest enter Week 6 undefeated according to the metrics are 3%. I’d put it somewhere in the 5-10% range given the fact that Wake plays their next 4 at home and Clemson should be heavy favorites every Saturday in September. Cue the Jim Carrey “So you’re telling me there’s a chance” memes.

While it’s still a long shot for College GameDay to head to Winston-Salem this fall, it is fun to at least acknowledge we could be in the conversation based on how the season lines up. Regardless, there should be no reason why this team isn’t playing in front of a wild, Black and Gold-crazed crowd every single time they step on the field at home in 2018.

The entire Wake Forest Football team and staff have worked countless hours over the last few years to get into a position where there is consistently a product on the field we can be proud of. It’s time to make sure we demonstrate just how appreciative we are of this progress and pack BB&T Field every chance we get.

For those of you heading to the game this Saturday, BSD will be hosting its traditional tailgate in a TBD location near the stadium. The tailgate should get started around 9 and all are welcome to stop by as always. For those that do not have tickets to see the Deacs this season yet, you can click here to go directly to the WF Ticket site and buy yours today. Looking forward to seeing everyone back in Winston-Salem at some point over the next few months. Let’s help make BB&T Field one of the best places in the nation for Saturdays in the fall.