Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Clemson-Wake Forest Has ACC Championship Implications


Clemson 3-2, 1-1 @ Wake Forest 3-1, 1-0
Thursday 7:35 PM
Line: WF -2

It has been a bumpy season thus far for the ACC pre-season favorite Clemson Tigers going 3-2 despite being favored in all five contests. Wake Forest is coming off a bye week after a home loss to Navy 24-17 in a game they were favored by 17. Many thought before this season that this game could go a long way to deciding the Atlantic Division champion.

Wake Forest Offense vs Clemson Defense
In a reversal of the past few seasons, Wake is getting it done on offense through the air and is struggling on the ground. QB Riley Skinner is completing nearly 70% of his passes and is averaging 244 pypg. RB Josh Adams has not had the kind of season HC Jim Grobe would like as the Deacons have been stymied on the ground at just 85 ypg and 2.4 ypc.

Clemson's defense is doing a better job stopping the pass than they are the run. The Tigers are giving up 115 ypg on the ground and 3.4 ypc. The middle of this defense is missing their big DT Rashaad Jackson who is out for a few more games and is suffering from a lack of experience at LB. The pass defense has been solid allowing just 200 ypg.

Clemson Offense vs Wake Forest Defense
Tiger QB Cullen Harper has been one of the biggest disappointments in the ACC this season. The senior has just 3 TD passes to 5 INT and has not exhibited the ability to pass down field. Clemson's vaunted running duo of James Davis and CJ Spiller has performed well when they have been given holes to run through by their young offensive line. However, with all the talent we thought Clemson has had, they seem to bog down at key times in games and play down to the level of their competition.

Defensively, Wake Forest has done an outstanding job of defending the pass allowing just 145 ypg. There is some caution to this figure considering 1/4 of their schedule is against the run-dominant Naval Academy. Howver, that game against the Mids did not help the Deacs run defense which is allowing 149 ypg. Wake has been making a killing off of opponent turnovers thus far averaging +2 per game.

News and Notes...
This is Clemson's first true road game of the year having played Alabama on a neutral field. The Tigers are 0-3 ATS in 2008 and have played two FCS opponents. Clemson is also 0-3 on the Over/Under as well this season. Both times Wake has not covered the spread, they have been out gained in total yards.

Prediction
The two point favorite line for Wake tells me Vegas thinks this is nearly an even match on a neutral field, which is surprising considering how underachieving Clemson has been. Wake's Riley Skinner will not play as bad as he did against Navy last time out. But under Tommy Bowden, Clemson has a way of rising up after disappointments in a big way (and falling when the stakes are high). If this game were in November and for the division title, I would be Wake all the way. But I will take Clemson in the upset with Cullen Harper having a breakout game.

Clemson 24 Wake Forest 20
Clemson Covers +2


Last Week: 5-0 ATS, 4-1 SU
Season: 18-5-1 ATS, 16-8 SU


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