Clemson vs. Wake Forest prediction: Win and you're in


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Clemson vs. Wake Forest prediction: Win and you're in

It’s simple if you’re Clemson. There are no ifs or ands and hoping someone else wins or loses. Saturday night is win or else.

Win and the Tigers claim a second consecutive ACC Atlantic Division crown, nail down a berth in the ACC Championship Game and keep their hopes for a spot in the College Football Playoff alive. Lose, and Louisville wins the crown and Clemson can look forward to some other bowl trip, the kind that wouldn’t be much of a consolation prize in a season that started with high expectations.

Clemson is heavily favored over the Demon Deacons, but all you have to do is take a look at the Tigers’ loss to Pitt last weekend, Michigan’s loss to Iowa or even Louisville’s Thursday night loss to Houston to know that upsets have dotted the college football landscape the last few weeks.

There is one statistical oddity that only Clemson fans will appreciate – the Tigers own the all-time series against Wake with a mark of 63-17-1. When you get into November, 63-17 is always a good thing.

CLEMSON (9-1, 6-1) AT WAKE FOREST (6-4, 3-3)

WHERE: BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, NC
WHEN Kickoff: 7:05 p.m.
TV: ESPN (Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard, Allison Williams)
CLEMSON RADIO NETWORK: (Don Munson, Rodney Williams, Michael Palmer)

SERIES HISTORY
Overall: Clemson leads 63-17-1
at Wake Forest: Clemson leads 23-10-1
at Clemson: Clemson leads 37-7
at Neutral: Clemson leads 3-0
Last Year: Clemson won 33-13 at Clemson
Last Wake Forest Win: 12-7 at WF, 2008
Current Streak: Clemson won 7 in row
Since ACC Formed in 1953: Clemson leads 53-9-1
In November Since 1946: Clemson leads 22-1 (Only loss since 2003)

*A Clemson victory over Wake Forest can clinch the 2016 Atlantic Division championship for the Tigers. Clemson will be looking for its fifth Atlantic Division title and fourth ACC title game appearance under Dabo Swinney. Clemson won the Atlantic Division outright in 2009, 2011 and 2015. The Tigers tied for the title in 2012 with a 7-1 record with Florida State. But the Seminoles won the head to head tie breaker and went to the championship game. Clemson has 15 ACC Championships, tied with Florida State for the most in history. Overall Clemson has 21 conference championships (4 SIAA and 2 Southern Conference), more than any other school in the ACC.

*Clemson has won seven in a row in the series, all under Dabo Swinney, by a combined score of 264-94. The Tigers won last year by a 33-13 score at Clemson. Clemson won 34-20 the last time the two teams met in Winston-Salem. The game was tied 20-20 at one point in the fourth quarter of that 2014 game.

WHEN CLEMSON HAS THE BALL

This is the part of the prediction where you say, ‘Wow, we’ve heard this all before.’ Clemson can move the football and score on anybody in the country. Some of Clemson’s offensive numbers have been gaudy this season, including piling up over 600 yards of offense and throwing for 580 yards last week against Pitt. But, the Tigers turned it over three more times last week, including two in the red zone, and failed to run the football with efficiency. The Tigers failed to get a yard on a late third down and fourth down, a failure that set up Pitt’s game-winning field goal. Clemson is now 93rd nationally in red zone conversions, scoring on 41 of 51 trips inside the 20. Just 32 of those have been touchdowns.

The Tigers have forced 21 turnovers but committed 21 for a zero margin. Wake Forest leads the ACC in margin at +9. While Clemson is 9-1, the turnovers by the offense have been a direct indicator of victory margin. In four games this year, the Tigers have had zero or one turnover on offense, Clemson has outscored the opponent 195-17. In the six games, Clemson has had two or more turnovers, Clemson has outscored the opposition 194-167.

I won’t go into any great detail about the scheme or opposing players in this one, because it’s simple: protect the football and establish a bit of a running game and the Tigers can win without having to hold on at the last second. ADVANTAGE: CLEMSON

WHEN WAKE FOREST HAS THE BALL

Junior tight end Cam Serigne has to be a concern for Brent Venables, especially after the Tigers struggled (and that’s being kind) with Pitt’s tight ends a week ago. Over the past three seasons, Serigne has caught 120 passes (54 in ‘14, 46 in ‘15, 20 in ‘16). Serigne is second nationally among tight ends with 120 career catches, and the Deacs like to use play-action to get the ball out to Serigne in the middle of the field.

However, Wake doesn’t scare you offensively. They are 91st nationally in rushing, 113th in passing, and 123rd in total offense at just over 319 yards per game. They are 118th nationally in scoring offense at 20.4 points per game, and their MO is simple: they want to play defense, run the football and milk the clock. They are 108th nationally in sacks allowed (nearly three per game) and among the nation’s worst teams in yards per play.

This is a good week for Clemson’s defense to get some of the swagger back that it lost against Pitt last week. The Deacs watched that game tape, and they’ll use some late shifts and weird formations and Clemson will probably see the shovel pass. Will it be enough? Probably not. ADVANTAGE CLEMSON

SPECIAL TEAMS

Punter Dom Maggio has 14 punts of 50 or more yards this season and his 21 punts inside the opponents’ 20 is the fifth-most in school history. Field goal kicker Mike Weaver has 17 field goals this season, which is tied for tops in the ACC. Clemson kicker Greg Huegel has 16 field goals on the season, while Clemson’s punting still sits a tad below average. Neither team scares you on kickoff or punt return. Wake has the edge because of a better punter. ADVANTAGE: WAKE FOREST

WHAT WILL HAPPEN

Did the Pitt game show Clemson has vulnerabilities on defense? Yes. Did it show the Tigers are still not a polished product offensively? Yes. Wake is playing really well on defense this season, and they held Florida St. in check for four quarters and Louisville in check for three quarters. But unlike Pitt and some other teams that have kept it close against the Tigers this season, they aren’t dynamic enough offensively. This one will be a typical Clemson game at Wake – too close for comfort for a while, but the Tigers pull away in the end.

FINAL SCORE: CLEMSON 34, WAKE 13


GUEST PREDICTIONS

Mickey Plyler - 6-9 AM on WCCP 105.5FM - 31-17 Clemson
Tony Crumpton - Associate Editor - 42-21 Clemson
Nikki Hood - Staff writer - 38-17 Clemson
Lawton Swann - 6-8 PM on Fox Sports Radio 1400 and iHeart Radio - 48-19 Clemson
Tom Meares - Staff writer - 38-21 Clemson
Pigskin Prophet - 44-20 Clemson


GameActualDavid HoodMickey PlylerTony CrumptonNikki HoodLawton SwannTom MearesPigskin Prophet
Auburn19-13 CU37-20 CU31-17 CU31-21 CU35-24 CU38-17 CU38-13 CU44-17 CU
Troy30-24 CU47-13 CU41-17 CU44-10 CU51-17 CU 45-14 CU55-10 CU55-13 CU
SCST59-0 CU52-10 CU48-0 CU45-10 CU49-3 CU52-10 CU48-10 CU55-13 CU
GT26-7 CU28-17 CU34-24 CU31-21 CU31-17 CU34-22 CU38-24 CU27-24 CU
LOU42-36 CU31-27 CU31-30 CU27-24 CU35-30 CU38-34 CU41-38 CU34-27 CU
BC56-10 CU30-14 CU31-14 CU35-21 CU38-10 CU34-10 CU38-13 CU27-9 CU
NCSU24-17 CU27-17 CU41-17 CU45-20 CU56-24 CU40-17 CU52-10 CU42-20 CU
FSU37-34 CU28-24 CU34-24 CU31-27 CU40-27 CU34-24 CU30-24 CU30-20 CU
Syr54-0 CU44-17 CU48-24 CU48-21 CU40-17 CU 45-17 CU52-10 CU47-20 CU
Pitt43-42 PT48-20 CU38-17 CU45-21 CU48-17 CU42-13 CU42-13 CU42-22 CU
Points - 13159139139

* Points: 3 pts for best prediction of the week (tiebreaker is Clemson score), 1pt for picking the correct winner

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