It’s Game Day in Winston-Salem where No. 4 Clemson battles Wake Forest in an ACC showdown as the Tigers look to win the Atlantic Division and advance to the ACC Championship Game in Orlando.
Location: BB&T Field
Kickoff: 7:05 p.m.
Announcers: Brock Huard, Bob Wischusen, Allison Williams
2016 Record: Clemson 9-1, Wake Forest 6-4
ACC Record: Clemson 6-0, Wake Forest 3-3
Series History: Clemson leads the series 63-17-1
Last Meeting: Clemson won 33-13 last year at Clemson
Clemson Can Clinch Atlantic Division
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.
Tiger DT Lawrence Freshman All-American Candidate
Clemson freshman defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence has lived up to his billing coming out of high school. He was a first-team USA Today All-American at Wake Forest High School in North Carolina. He was the player of the year in North Carolina according to all services last yaer when he helped his team to a 12-1 record.
So far this year Lawrence has been one of the top freshmen in the nation. He was a midseason pick as defensive Freshman of the Year by some services. Over the first 10 games he has 63 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, including four sacks. He leads the team in quarterback pressures with 19. He also has two blocked kicks, and two fumble recoveries. He has also played six plays on offense as well as a blocker.
Two Starters Have Birthdays Saturday
Two Clemson starters on defense will celebrated birthdays on Saturday at Wake Forest. Starting linebacker Kendall Joseph will turn 21, while starting cornerback Cordrea Tankersley will turn 22. Both have been productive for the Tigers this year. Joseph is third on the team in tackles with 80, including seven tackles for loss and 13 quarterback pressures. Tankersley has 47 tackles, including six tackles for loss and eight pass deflections. He has one interception. Lineman Dexter Lawrence had a birthday against Pittsburgh on November 12 and had two blocked kicks, a fumble recovery and six tackles.
Clemson Has Played Strong Schedule
Clemson has played a strong schedule this year and is the only team in the nation to have defeated four teams currently ranked in the AP top 25. The Tigers have beaten #3 Louisville, #17 Florida State, #18 Auburn and #25 Troy. Alabama has beaten #15 Southern California, #16 LSU and #23 Texas A&M. Michigan and Ohio State also have three wins over current Top 25 AP teams. Michigan has downed #6 Wisconsin, #9 Penn State and #12 Colorado, while the Buckeyes have beaten #6 Wisconsin, #8 Oklahoma and #19 Nebraska. In terms of schedule strength, Clemson has faced the third toughest in the nation as rated by the NCAA. The NCAA ranks schedules according to your opponents record when not playing you. Clemson opponents outside of their games with Clemson are 48-25, a .658 winning percentage. Only Tennessee (.711) and Oregon State (.684) are stronger.
Clemson’s Best Total Offense Games
Clemson gained 630 yards total offense in the loss to Pittsburgh. That included 580 passing, an all-time ACC record, and 50 rushing. It was the sixth highest total offense game in Clemson history and just the second time Clemson lost a game in which it had at least 500 yards of total offense. The only other loss when gaining at least 500 yards was against Alabama in the 2015 season National Championship game.
Clemson Looks for Second Straight Perfect Road Record
Clemson has won a school record nine straight road games, the third longest active streak in the nation. Alabama has the longest active streak with 11, followed by 10 in a row for Oklahoma. After Clemson comes Western Michigan at seven. A win on Saturday at Wake Forest will give Clemson two consecutive perfect seasons on the opponent’s home field. This would be a first in school history as Clemson has never had back to back perfect records on the opponent’s home field. Clemson has had a perfect record on the road six times. Those years are 1900 (3-0), 1917 (3-0), 1948 (5-0), 1981 (5-0), 1995 (5-0), and 2015 (5-0).
Five Straight Road Night Games
Clemson will play at Wake Forest in a 7 p.m. start on Saturday night. That will be the fifth consecutive road night game for the Tigers in 2016. This marks the first time in history all Clemson road games are at night. The 2012 and 2011 teams played four night games out of five. (including a neutral site game against Auburn in Atlanta). Including regular season neutral site games, the Wake Forest game will be the 21st in 43 road games the Tigers have played at night under Dabo Swinney.
Turnovers a Key
Clemson has had problems with turnovers this year. The Tigers have forced 21, but committed 21 for a zero margin. Wake Forest, Clemson’s opponent on Saturday, leads the ACC in margin at +9. While Clemson is 9-1, the turnovers by the offense has 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.
Clemson Over 50 Percent on Third Down
Clemson has converted on 50.3 percent of its third downs so far this year, on pace to become just the second team in school history to convert at least half of their third down opportunities. This current Clemson team has converted 79-157 for a .503 mark. The record was set in 1978, the first year the Clemson SID office tracked the stat. That year Clemson converted 99 of 192 third downs, a .516 figure. The quarterback on that team was Steve Fuller. This year’s quarterback is Deshaun Watson. Both quarterbacks had the number-four in common for their jersey number.
Robert – Clemson 35 Wake Forest 17
Gavin – Clemson 38 Wake Forest 14
Will – Clemson 24 Wake Forest 10
Qualk – Clemson 34 Wake Forest 13