If No. 2 Clemson has any notion of taking visiting Wake Forest lightly on Saturday, coach Dabo Swinney’s message didn’t get through. The Tigers look to continue the strong start to their national title defense against an improved Demon Deacons team that has the ACC’s attention.
Clemson has won eight straight in the series by a combined 299-107 score, but Swinney is trying to ensure his team doesn’t overlook the Demon Deacons. “I’ll just tell you right out of the gate, this is a very, very good football team that we’re getting ready to play, and if anybody says anything different, then you have absolutely no clue what you’re talking about,” Swinney told reporters. “So if there’s any inclination that people like to create that this team right here is not a legit contender for our division, you have no idea what you’re talking about.” Wake Forest started 4-0, including a blowout win at Boston College, before suffering a tough 26-19 loss to Florida State last week. The Demon Deacons also started 4-0 a season ago but dropped six of their last eight before beating Temple in the Military Bowl.
TV: Noon ET, ESPN2. LINE: Clemson -21.5
ABOUT WAKE FOREST (4-1, 1-1 ACC): The Demon Deacons have been solid on both sides of the ball, boasting a balanced offense and ranking second in the ACC in scoring defense (14.4 points per game). Quarterback John Wolford and redshirt freshman receiver Greg Dortch have been a lethal combination for opposing defenses, but Wake Forest also averages 192 rushing yards per game. The stingy defense has been especially tough against the pass, and defensive lineman Duke Ejiofor is the big-play threat on that side of the ball with 10 1/2 tackles for loss and three sacks.
ABOUT CLEMSON (5-0, 3-0): The Tigers have been dominant in every facet through five games, including three wins over top-15 opponents. Clemson ranks fourth in the nation in scoring defense (10.8 points per game) and seventh in total defense (250 yards), and those numbers would be even more impressive if not for stats opponents have put up in the fourth quarter of lopsided games. Quarterback Kelly Bryant has been nearly flawless in taking over under center, leading the team with 362 rushing yards and seven touchdowns while also passing for 1,059 yards with three TDs and three interceptions.
1. Clemson has won 48 of its last 49 games against unranked teams and 50 straight when holding opponents under 23 points.
2. Wake Forest K Mike Weaver has made 12 consecutive field goals, two shy of the program record set in 2011 by Jimmy Newman.
3. Clemson LB Dorian O’Daniel has returned two interceptions for touchdowns, the first member of the program to do so since Arlington Nunn brought back three for scores in 1990.
PREDICTION: Clemson 33, Wake Forest 13