No.15 Clemson Tigers (6-1 SU, 5-2 ATS) vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-3 SU, 4-3 ATS)
College Football Week 9
Date/Time: Thursday October 25th, 2012. 7:30PM Eastern.
Where: BBT Field Winston-Salem, N.C.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Clem -13/WF +13
Over/Under Total: OFF
The no. 15 Clemson Tigers take a trip north this Thursday night to Winston-Salem to battle the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in a prime time ACC showdown. The Tigers should be feeling confident after last week’s 38-17 thumping over Virginia Tech in Death Valley. Clemson has clearly distanced their selves as the 2nd best team in the conference behind Florida State. In fact if the Seminoles happen to slip again as they did against North Carolina State, Clemson would be in position to make it back to defend their ACC Championship barring any slips of their own. Therefore, Clemson has to keep their momentum going this Thursday night on the road at Wake Forest.
Last week, the Demon Deacons broke a two game losing streak with a 16-10 victory over Virginia and will return home this week for the first time since late September. Wake Forest has had two straight low scoring games in the loss to Maryland 19-14 and then in the win last week over Virginia. If the Demon Deacons can come up with another low scoring game Thursday night, that would have to be a major accomplishment for the defense. Clemson owns one of the best offenses in the entire country averaging just less than 500 yards and just over 40 points per game. If you consider the fact that the Demon Deacons’ defense has given up 405 yards per game this season (73rd in FBS), then Wake Forest is clearly at a disadvantage on that side of the football.
Many people will question whether Wake Forest has the defensive capability of slowing down this Clemson offense and rightfully so. However my biggest question is whether the Demon Deacons offense can score enough points even if the defense makes a few stops. The Demon Deacons offense has been atrocious this season averaging just 309 yards per game (109th in FBS). After throwing for more than 3,000 yards passing in 2011, QB Tanner Price is completing just 50.7% for 1,327 yards with 7 scores and 4 picks through 7 games. However, all the blame cannot be given to Price. The offensive line has had troubles and star WR Michael Campanaro broke his hand in the Duke game leaving a void in the receiving core. Furthermore, the lack of a running game has made matters worse for the offense.
Overall Wake Forest still has issues that they are trying to work out on offense. Campanaro was hoping to return this Thursday but it appears that return will be delayed another week. Still, Price has to find a way to get some of the other Demon Deacons receivers involved this Thursday night to keep pace with Clemson’s offense. The Tigers defense has been inconsistent at times this season and they are a momentum type group. Therefore, if the Demon Deacons can make a few plays early perhaps they can get the Tigers off balance.
On the other side of the ball, Clemson has dynamic weapons at the skill positions. Despite missing some playing time this year, I would still list Sammy Watkins as the best receiver in the nation. Additionally, running back Andre Ellington is currently 2nd in the ACC with 693 rushing yards while averaging 5.1 yards per touch. On top of those playmakers, QB Tahj Boyd just may be the best passer in the ACC. Boyd has completed 67% of his passes this season for 1,908 yards with 15 touchdowns and 6 picks. Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris typically likes to see the Tigers push the tempo on offense and use the Tigers’ speed to thwart defenses. Therefore if Wake Forest does not get a few stops early, that tempo could take a toll by the end of the game.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Wake Forest is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games against Clemson and has their number. Expect Wake to give everything they’ve got vs. Clemson and to probably lose the game straight up, but cover the point spread and get the cash. I’m betting Wake plus the points!
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