Wake Forest vs #3 Clemson
Memorial Stadium, Clemson
3:30 PM ABC
Two weeks ago, it looked like the final game in Death Valley would feature two top twenty teams battling it out for the ACC Atlantic. After Wake Forest lost in Blacksburg last weekend, it’s now just another game, and one in which Wake is missing its most dynamic player on offense.
The Deacs were never going to be an opponent that moved the needle for the national media. When Wake Forest is the second best team in the league, it is a very bad year for the ACC. That isn’t a knock on the Demon Deacons, but that’s just fact.
The Tigers are about a 35 point home favorite, and with good reason. This Wake Forest offense, while effective, is centered around its running game. If you take that away, you shut them down, and this Clemson defense is one plenty capable of doing just that.
They love the zone runs, inside and out, and like to run the power as well. Once they have established that, they use a variety of quick passes and RPO’s to attack defenses, hoping that they can catch the LBs out of position. They like to run a very odd, slow developing zone read, as you can see below. The QB waits as long as possible to make the read. When it works, it has been very successful. When it does not, it usually results in TFL. Want to guess which result we see more of on Saturday?
Wake receiver Sage Surratt was injured last week and is now out for the season. He is by far their biggest weapon on offense, and leads the team in receptions. He had already topped the 1000 yard mark, which leads the ACC by more than 200 yards, and his 11 TD catches are also tops in the league. They had very little chance with him. Without him, they have none.
Something else they also have going against them is their defense. This Clemson offense is rolling. The Deacs are giving up over 400 yards of offense a game, with almost 250 of that coming through the air. Now that Trevor Lawrence is dialed in, expect a big day from the Tigers QB. While he is in the game, that is.
They also give up more than 160 yards per game on the ground, and like Lawrence, Travis Etienne has hit his stride in the last few weeks. Lyn-J Dixon has been playing his best ball of late too. This is a front seven that these back can feast on.
Let’s be frank, this another mismatch. As good as Wake Forest has been this season, it has mostly come against subpar competition. An average Virginia Tech defense shut this offense down last week. They took away the run, and once they did, the Deacs spent the rest of the game punting the ball away.
This game is in Clemson. The Tigers do not lose in Death Valley these days. It is Senior Day and this team is playing for a fifth straight trip to the College Football Playoff. The only real question is how long it takes the Tigers to put them away…..