Wake Forest suffered their second loss of the season on Saturday, falling to the Clemson Tigers by a score of 27-48. The loss was Wake’s first loss in the conference this season, moving the Deacs to 6-1 in ACC play and 9-2 overall for the season. The Deacs still control their own destiny next weekend against the Boston College Eagles—if Wake wins, they are in the ACC Championship game, but if they lose, they will lose a tie with Clemson or a three way tie with Clemson and NC State, and will have just the bowl game remaining in the 2021 season.
Things got ugly really quickly for the Deacs in this one, as Wake was basically non-existent in the first quarter of this game. I don’t know if the Deacs were unprepared for the Clemson defense or playing scared or what, but the high powered, top 10 offense that we have seen all season long managed just 10 total yards in the first quarter. The Clemson defensive line was all over Hartman early, causing Wake’s first 4 possessions to end in 1 first down, 4 sacks, and 4 punts. The Deacs settled in a bit in the second quarter, managing to get 10 points on the board before the end of the half, trailing just 10-17 at halftime.
The Tigers came out in the second half and with an obvious emphasis on running the ball. Their first pass attempt of the half came with about 7 minutes remaining the 3rd quarter, and they only attempted two passes in the entire half. Wake was completely unable to stop anything in the run game—the Tigers finished with 54 rushes for 333 yards on the day, marking the 4th game this season that the Deacs have given up 300+ rushing yards. Clemson runs pretty much ended one of two ways: no one anywhere near the ball carrier for a big gain, or Wake having several guys in the position to make the play, and no one being able to make the tackle. A couple of Wake Forest turnovers and that inability to stop the run pretty much ended this game by the start of the 4th quarter, as the Deacs trailed 13-38 at the end of the 3rd. Two late Wake touchdowns made the score maybe a little more respectable, but there’s no sugar coating that the Deacs just got completely outplayed in this one.
This was certainly an ugly game—dare I say a borderline beat down—but at the end of the day, Wake is still 9-2 and can make the ACC Championship Game by taking down Boston College next week. Yes, Clemson is having a “down year,” but they are still an 8-3 team full of 4 and 5 star talent, and the Deacs were going to have to play a nearly perfect game to take them down on the road. Simply put, Wake was too lackluster at the start of the game and had too many mental mistakes to win this one. Thankfully, Wake fought all season so that this game essentially did not matter, and now they can focus on BC. Next week’s game is absolutely massive for the program, and the Deacs need to make sure they show up when the game starts, not halfway through the second quarter. I have a good feeling they will be amped up and ready to go. GO DEACS!