Clemson vs. Wake Forest Odds, Analysis, Free Pick
Clemson Tigers (3-0 SU, 1-2 ATS) vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS)
When: Saturday, September 24, Noon
Where: Truist Field, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Point Spread: CLEM -7.5/WAKE +7.5 (Wagerweb - Bet Clemson as a +12.5 underdog by inserting them into a massive 20 point college football teaser at WW!)
Total: O/U 56.5
On one side of the ball, an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. On the other, a very stoppable force meets an easily movable object. These two teams are almost polar opposites, as Clemson brings a solid defense with a questionable quarterback, and Wake Forest counters with a strong quarterback and a highly suspect defense. The Deacons’ poor defense nearly bit them in the backside last week against Liberty, as they only just outscored the Flames and escaped with a one-point victory. Wake Forest has put up huge numbers against three lower-level defenses (an FCS opponent, a Group of 5 foes, and Vanderbilt), but the Deacons also still haven’t fixed their defensive issues at all, giving up almost 24 points a game against a fairly soft slate.
Clemson hasn’t exactly been playing a bunch of world-beaters either, as the Tigers have faced down Georgia Tech, Louisiana Tech, and Furman. They’ve outscored their foes 124-42 so far, but there are still plenty of questions about quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei and whether he can actually be the main guy for this offense. Uiagalelei hasn’t made as many questionable decisions with the football yet, but he also hasn’t really faced a real defense at the FBS level in 2022. Wake Forest doesn’t qualify as one of those either, but the Deacons have one thing that none of the Tigers’ first three opponents did: a quality passing attack that can move the ball down the field quickly. Clemson’s pass defense has shown it’s not invincible in giving up 20 points to Louisiana Tech, and Sam Hartman moves the ball through the air a heck of a lot better than Parker McNeil.
How the Public is Betting the Clemson/Wake Forest Game
Clemson has burned bettors too many times to earn any trust from the public, even after 13 consecutive wins against Wake Forest (over the past 17 years, the Deacons actually have more ACC championship game appearances than wins over Clemson, 2 to 1). Even with that history, only 51% of tickets have come on the Tigers. However, that has bumped the line from -7 to -7.5, adding the important hook.
Defensive end Justin Foster (undisclosed) and defensive tackle Bryan Bresee (personal) are questionable. Wide receiver Troy Stellato (knee) and defensive end Xavier Thomas (foot) are out.
Long snapper Jacob Zuhr (undisclosed) is questionable. Defensive back Coby Davis (undisclosed) and wide receiver Horatio Fields (knee) are out.
When Clemson Has the Ball
Is Clemson going to be able to hit Wake Forest’s defense when it matters? The Tigers did it last year for 48 points, but that was the only time all season that Uiagalelei really got anything cooking for the Clemson offense. So far, it seems like the most reliable weapon that the Tigers have is the ground game, specifically Will Shipley.
When Clemson has gone to him, Shipley has responded well, averaging more than seven yards per carry. The problem is that Wake has actually defended the run much better than the pass (other than two big touchdowns against Liberty), and given the problems Uiagalelei has shown, the Deacons are likely to focus on Shipley and make Clemson try to beat them by throwing the football. The Tigers have thrown the ball better over the course of the year, but Uiagalelei tends to take a quarter to a half before he settles into a groove. If Clemson’s defense plays well, that will work out just fine, but if the Wake Forest offense gets off to a fast start, the Tigers won’t be able to afford having to wait until the second quarter to get cooking.
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When Wake Forest Has the Ball
Sam Hartman knows what he’s got to do to give the Demon Deacons a chance: throw a lot and be accurate with his passes. Clemson can be hit with the pass if a team is willing to attack them regularly, and Wake certainly won’t hesitate to attack through the air. The Deacons pretty much have to because running the football is not something they do well. Christian Turner is only serviceable on the ground, and with Clemson playing strong defense against the pass, the Deacons won’t have much luck trying to play ball control.
Instead, Hartman has to sling it to A.T. Perry and company and keep the ball moving down the field. With luck, that will lead to longer drives that result in touchdowns, as putting Clemson in an early hole is probably the Deacons’ best chance at winning or covering in this game.
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Clemson in September has been an awful bet, as the Tigers have just one cover in their past ten games in September because they tend to give way too many points. But they have covered four straight ACC games as books have adjusted to who this Clemson team is and given a more accurate line than in seasons past. The Tigers also don’t give up a lot of points on the road, as the under has cashed in five of their past six road games.
Has Wake been poor in this series? Yes, on the field, no on the spread. The Deacons are 7-3-1 ATS in their last 11 meetings with Clemson, despite zero wins in that stretch. They’re also 4-1 ATS in September and have actually played to the under in seven of their past ten home games.
This will be a lovely day in the Triad, with temperatures hitting 75 degrees and wind blowing southwest at six miles per hour.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
The Deacons might not have the defense needed to beat Clemson, but they should keep it close. The Tigers just haven’t faced anyone who can challenge them yet, and the defense is looking more vulnerable than in past years. This looks like it could be an interesting battle from start to finish.
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