No. 21 Clemson Tigers (6-2 SU, 4-4 ATS) vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (2-6 SU, 4-4 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date and Time: Thursday November 6th, 2014. 7:30PM EST
Where: BB&T Field Winston-Salem, N.C.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CLEM -23/WF +23
Over/Under Total: TBA
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The Clemson Tigers return from a bye this week with a road trip to Winston-Salem to battle the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at BB&T Field. At 6-2 SU, the Tigers are seeking their 6th straight win of the season after a rough start that included losses to Georgia and Florida State in the first 3 games of the year. The Demon Deacons on the other hand have been going in the exact opposite direction losing their last 4 straight games and they will be rather large 23 point underdogs when they return to action after a bye this Thursday night.
The visiting Tigers have taken a big step back on the offensive side of the ball this year. The offense that was once loaded with talents like Tahj Boyd, Andre Ellington, Sammy Watkins, and Martavis Bryant has spent most of the season trying to find a new identity. Quarterback Cole Stoudt starting the season as the starting quarterback but was taken over by freshman Deshaun Watson after just a few starts. Watson shined behind center throwing 12 touchdowns with just 2 picks and providing exciting big play potential with his legs. However, the Tigers star rookie and former 5 star recruit suffered a broken bone in his hand a few weeks ago against Louisville. While Watson is on the path to recovery, Stoudt remains the man behind center heading into this Thursdays contest against Wake Forest.
On the season, Stoudt has thrown just 2 passing touchdowns with 4 interceptions. Additionally disturbing is the fact that the Tigers still do not have a running back that has eclipsed 300 yards rushing despite the fact 8 games are already on the books. If you look back at the last 3 years, Clemson has had a quarterback throw for at least 3,800 yards while having a 1,000 yard rusher and a 1,000 yard receiver. Therefore this years totals are way down on expectations for offensive coordinator Chad Morris who is one of the highest paying coordinators in the business. Instead this years Clemson team has relied more heavily on their defense rather than the offense.
Clemson currently owns the 10th best scoring defense in the country yielding just 18.3 points per game. Despite the offensive woes, the Tigers have found ways to keep winning since their last loss to Florida State. In fact, the last 3 games have been decided by 10 points or less which is in large credit to the play of the defense. This week the Clemson defense will get their opportunity to shine yet again against the ACCs worse offense in Wake Forest.
Statistically the Demon Deacons rank outside the top 100 in rushing, passing, and scoring. In fact, there are only 3 teams in the entire FBS that have averaged less points than Wake Forests 14.8 points per game on the season. Obviously it is nearly impossible to win football games in todays college football landscape averaging just 14.8 points per game and the Demon Deacons have to find some answers. The running game has been atrocious averaging just 1.1 yards per attempt which ranks dead last in the FBS. To put things in perspective, Wake Forests 1.1 yards per attempt is just half of what Washington State has averaged who ranks 2nd to last in the FBS in rushing. Needless to say, the running game has not shown any potential and the only possible answer to finding some success on offense may come from the passing game with quarterback John Wolford. Wolford has tossed 7 touchdowns with 13 picks on the season while completing 61% of his passes. Obviously the turnover ratio is concerning but for some reason the Demon Deacons have still tried to rely on their rushing attack to move the football. Perhaps they give Wolford more chances this Thursday and this game stays relatively close.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I expect Clemsons defense to control this game and keep the offense on the short side of the field which will lead to plenty of scoring opportunities. Take Clemson -23