No. 5 Clemson Tigers (9-1 SU, 5-5 ATS) vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-4 SU, 6-4 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date/Time: Saturday November 19th, 2016. 7:00PM (EST)
Where: BB&T Field Winston-Salem, N.C.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CLEM -21.5/WF +21.5
Over/Under Total: TBA
As soon as the whistle sounded in last week’s shocking 43-42 upset loss at home to Pitt, Clemson fans dreams of a repeat trip to the College Football Playoffs appeared vanished. However, in just a few short hours both no. 3 Michigan and no. 4 Washington would also suffer shocking losses giving hope back to the Tigers. Now it appears that last Saturday’s loss may have not been the dagger that most originally thought. The Tigers can still earn their ACC Championship bid and earn a playoffs appearance if they can run the table. The road to redemption travels through Winston-Salem this week as the Tigers look to clinch the ACC Atlantic as they meet the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at BB&T Field.
As quickly as Clemson’s hopes of the playoffs were restored last Saturday, they could easily be wiped away with another stumble. I have specifically questioned if this Clemson team was really as good as people were assuming throughout this season and I feel like last week’s loss to Pitt shed some light on those concerns. However, I am not sure that anyone left on the Tigers schedule is capable of delivering another upset. Clemson will be heavily favored in every game for the remainder of the season making their playoff possibilities that much more plausible.
The next challenger that will step to the plate against the Tigers will be the Wake Forest Demon Deacons who are currently 6-4 SU on the season but have lost 4 of their last 6 games SU. The Demon Deacons are 4-1 SU at home this season but I would quickly point out the fact that they have had a very generous schedule in Winston-Salem this year as well. I think the big question that boils down to any upset possibilities against Clemson is can Wake Forest score enough points to pose a threat? Pitt proved last week that you need to score points against the Tigers to put the pressure on. Florida State and Louisville both posted high scoring totals despite close losses. However, the Tigers have been untested for the most part against teams that did not come up with big scoring totals with the lone exception against North Carolina State.
Clemson’s defense may be their Achilles Heel this season. However, I am just not confident that Wake Forest has enough weapons to expose the Tigers defense. Between Wake Forest quarterbacks John Wolford and Kendall Hinton, the two have combined for just 57% passing with 5 scores and 9 interceptions. In the rushing department, the Demon Deacons do not have a single rusher that has eclipsed the 500 yard mark despite 3 different rushers having at least 100 touches. This Wake Forest team just lacks the big play scoring ability needed to challenge a team that has the explosiveness that Clemson’s offense contains.
Despite the loss last week, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson set a single game ACC record with 580 passing yards with 3 touchdowns and 3 picks. Watson completed 52 of 70 passing and consistently shredded the Panthers defense down the field. Clemson does not typically throw the football quite that often but they were forced to due to the high scoring nature the game along with the inability to run the football.
Therefore, I am not sure Wake has enough firepower to contend with the Tigers even if they get lucky to force a few turnovers and even shut down Clemson’s ability to run the football. Running back Wayne Gallman had just 36 yards on 18 carries last week but he is going to bounce back and Watson also had his lowest total of the season last week rushing the football. Therefore, I am not going to bank on any extremities this Saturday that would be needed for Wake Forest to make this game competitive and cover the mark.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Take Clemson -21.5
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