It has taken a few weeks but this Clemson team is finally starting to resemble what many envisioned heading into the season. An efficient offensive capable of being explosive, complimented by a defense that can be downright dominant.
That isn’t to say there isn’t still room for improvement, though. There absolutely is. And this Wake Forest team provides ample opportunity for this team to take that next step.
Clemson comes in favored by more than 20 points for a reason. This Wake Forest team isn’t as good as it has been in years past. Yes, the Demon Deacons come in at 3-1, but those wins came over Elon, Vanderbilt and Old Dominion, and they barely got by the Monarchs 27-24, after trailing at halftime 17-0. The lone loss came to Georgia Tech 30-16, their last time out, and it was not pretty.
Gone is Sam Hartman, who is now leading an unbeaten Notre Dame team. In his place, Mitch Griffis. The redshirt sophomore has already thrown six interceptions and has fumbled the ball five times, losing two of those.
The Wake Forest offensive line was putrid in the loss to the Yellow Jackets. They allowed eight sacks, and Griffis threw three picks in the defeat. Wes Goodwin’s defense comes in hot, and should feast on the Deacs and that slow developing mesh play they rely so heavily on.
Wake’s defense has not been much better, and they have not faced a quarterback as good as Cade Klubnik through the first four games. Clemson’s passing game is finding its groove, even without Antonio Williams, who has missed the past two games and could possibly miss this one as well.
Georgia Tech averaged right at 5 yards per carry, meaning Will Shipley and Phil Mafah should have some room to run. So, if the Tigers need to lean on the run, they should be able to do so.
Clemson has won 15 straight over Wake. Dabo Swinney has never lost to the Deacs. The last time they got a win in the series was back in 2008. The game that culminated in the firing of Tommy Bowden.
This won’t be like last year’s matchup that saw the Tigers need double overtime to win 51-45. This one should not even be close. The only question is whether the Tigers cover.
Clemson 35 Wake Fores 14
Clemson and Notre Dame have released depth charts ahead of this weekend’s matchup at Death Valley.
For the second time this season, Clemson will be an underdog at home.
Despite Clemson’s astonishing loss to Miami, the Tigers will head to Raleigh next week favored over NC State.