Clemson vs. Wake Forest prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Tigers and Demon Deacons on Saturday in Winston-Salem, NC.
Clemson vs. Wake Forest Game Preview
When: Saturday, Nov. 19 – 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, NC
TV Broadcast: ESPN
The Tigers (9-1, 6-1 ACC) have played with fire all season long, and it finally caught up with them last week in a 43-42 loss to Pitt, which snapped Clemson’s 21-game home win streak. Heading into the game slotted at No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings, Dabo Swinney’s squad dropped from the ranks of the unbeatens when Pitt kicker Chris Blewitt hit a 48-yard field goal with six seconds left.
Meanwhile, the Demon Deacons (6-4, 3-3) had a 12-0 lead over a Louisville team that was turnover-prone in the first half, and then Dave Clawson’s squad allowed the Cardinals to post a 41-point second half in a 44-12 Louisville rout.
In last year’s November meeting between these teams at Memorial Stadium, Deshaun Watson threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another to lead the Tigers to a 33-13 victory. He went 24-of-35 through the air for 343 yards. The Demon Deacons garnered a mere 152 total yards in the loss.
What To Know About Clemson
In the loss to Pitt, the Tigers received a huge day from Watson, who threw for 580 yards and three touchdowns on 52-of-70 passing. But he also threw three interceptions, and his third pick allowed Pitt the opportunity to come back from a 42-34 deficit. Clemson was in the driver’s seat for a spot in the CFP for a second consecutive season, but its future is now a bit murky. If Swinney’s squad beats Wake Forest and South Carolina before winning the ACC title, a 12-1 Tigers team still has a very good chance of being a Top 4 team in the final rankings. But it needs to find its killer instinct on defense. As much as the turnovers hurt the Tigers against the Panthers, the defense could not get enough stops.
What to Know About Wake Forest
The Demon Deacons have a chance to spoil the Tigers’ bid to repeat as ACC Atlantic division champs, but it will be a tall order because the offense in Winston-Salem leaves a lot to be desired. Defensively, Wake had a strong first half last week, getting pressure on Jackson, sacking him and creating turnovers in building a lead against Louisville. But it couldn’t stop Louisville in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter. The Demon Deacons became bowl-eligible the previous week with a 27-20 home victory over Virginia, securing bowl eligibility for the first time since 2011 when they lost to Mississippi State in the Music City Bowl. So it’s been a nice season in Winston-Salem. Does it have some upset magic in store for this week?
Offense: Clemson. The Tigers are averaging over 500 yards per game.
Defense: Clemson. The Wake defense is solid, but the Tigers could be nasty. However, they need to regain that edge on defense after last week’s loss.
Special Teams: Clemson. Ray-Ray McCloud can be an X-Factor as a return man.
Coaching: Clemson. Clawson has done a very nice job in Winston-Salem, but Swinney has the Tigers positioned for a special season once again – even after the loss.
Intangibles: Even. Clemson will want to play its best game of the year following last week’s loss, while Wake Forest has nothing to lose because it is already slated for the postseason.
Matchup To Watch
John Wolford vs. Clemson secondary
In last year’s meeting, Wake Forest quarterbacks managed just 113 yards through the air with a touchdown and an interception, which didn’t get it done and will not be enough this year either. Wolford has just two games of 200 passing yards or more and has thrown just five touchdowns against seven interceptions this year. So it’s been an anemic passing attack. Wake was held to just 37 yards after halftime against the Cardinals, as the offense once again failed the Demon Deacons down the stretch. It’s safe to say that Wolford needs to play the best game of his career this week.
Spread: Clemson -21.5
Over/Under: No Line (as of post)
Clemson vs. Wake Forest Prediction
The Tigers will put together one of their finest performances of the season as they look to win their division and remain in the College Football Playoff mix. Wake simply lacks any serious offensive firepower to hang with Swinney’s squad.
Clemson vs. Wake Forest Score Prediction: Clemson 38, Wake Forest 17