Last week everyone corrected picked that Wake Forest would defeat Utah State in the season opener. Today the staff gives their predictions for the Rice game tonight.
Wake Forest 48-Rice 17
If this is as close as last week, I’m going to be very worried.
Wake Forest 42-Rice 14
Wake Forest is a much, much better team than Rice. The Deacs opened as a -19.5 favorite, which is the largest road game spread in over 20 years. I expect Wake to come out focused, take care of business, and get back home without too many injuries. Rice runs a pretty plain offense and I think the defense will be chomping at the bit following the Utah State game, where it won the game with 3 interceptions, but also allowed 600+ yards of offense to a G5 football team. I believe Coach Clawson will be content to rely on the run game and not open it up too much ahead of a big non-conference matchup next Friday against North Carolina. I like Carney to hit the 100 yard mark again and would also enjoy seeing Beal-Smith have a nice follow-up game.
Wake Forest 38-Rice 14
Wake Forest 38-Rice 21
The Deacs are dealing with the injury bug, but should still be able to take care of business. In a perfect world, young players get more action and the Deacs get a couple chances to work on goal-line.
Wake Forest left early for Houston. I have a feeling the starters will also be leaving the game early.
Wake Forest 48-Rice 17
The Deacs have another offensive explosion, and roll to a victory by halftime. Cade Carney has a 100-yard plus game on the ground, and Christian Beal-Smith gets plenty of opportunities to show off in the second half. The defense improves and is able to get some pressure on the quarterback. Wake goes into the UNC rivalry game 2-0 without giving future opponents too much to review on tape.
Wake Forest 38-Rice 13
As a Wake fan, I’m always conscious of underestimating opponents, and this is about as big a spread as I would ever dare predict. Utah State was a good test (that Wake barely passed), but that team is by any measure much stronger than Rice (and hopefully the tight game served as a bit of a wake up call to the Deacs). I think Wake takes care of business handily in this one and scores at will, while the defense hopefully steps up and locks Rice down pretty tight. If Clawson was calling plays conservatively against Utah State to keep more interesting stuff off tape, I would expect that to continue against Rice. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some big rushing numbers (maybe even a couple of hundred-yard rushers for the Deacs) as Wake wins the battle of the trenches and sticks to the ground in the second half.
Wake Forest 41-Rice 17
The big question here is what Rice’s secondary is going to be able to do against Wake’s passing game. They had all summer to prepare for Army’s option offense and the front seven availed themselves well. Army only threw the ball 8 times total. Rice didn’t have great coverage, but at the same time they were primarily committed to stopping the run. Again, they were pretty disciplined up front so our offensive line could have a challenge on their hands. We just have no idea based on what has happened on the field how Rice’s pass defense will stack up - last year they were the sixth worst pass defense in the nation though with a middling rush defense. So even if they’re decently improved they’re still not going to be a top 70 pass defense without big changes overall. This bodes well for Newman and company on offense.
If Rice scores 20 points against us in what amounts to a close game (our starters are in the whole game and garbage time doesn’t start early) or without a defensive/ST touchdown or two (or winning the turnover margin by 3-4 total), I think we’re in for a world of hurt this season overall and the defense needs vast improvement. I’ve said it several times but Rice’s offense was flat out bad against Army and they will struggle to move the ball against us.
I like Wake up 24-7 or so at the half and I’ll take the Deacs 41-17.
How do you all think the Deacs will do tonight? Comment below with your predictions.