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Countdown to Kickoff: Wake Forest at No. 2 Clemson

Second ranked-Clemson looks for its 11th straight victory overall win it hosts ACC Atlantic Division foe Wake Forest at noon Saturday in Death Valley.

The Tigers have won eight straight against the Demon Deacons and eight straight in Death Valley. Wake has not beaten Clemson in Memorial Stadium since 1998. The Tigers are 26-2 vs. Wake Forest in Death Valley since 1963.

 

Game information:

Where: Clemson Memorial Stadium (a.k.a. Death Valley)

Records: Clemson 5-0, 3-0 ACC; Wake Forest 4-1, 1-1 ACC

When: Noon

TV: ESPN2

Radio: 105.5 in the Upstate (Clemson Tigers Radio Network); SiriusXM Radio Ch. 193

Latest Line: Clemson favored by 22 points

Series: Clemson leads 64-17-1 (Clemson has won eight straight)

First meeting: Clemson won 13-0 in 1933 (in Charlotte, N.C.)

Last year: Clemson won 35-13 at Wake Forest

Injury Report:  Out for Season: Richard Yeargin, DE, Neck; Logan Rudolph, DE, Shoulder; Cole Renfrow, TE, Knee; Greg Huegel, PK, Knee. Out for this Game: Garrett Williams, TE, knee; Tucker Israel, QB, illness; D.J. Greenlee, TE, Knee; Marcus Edmond, CB, foot; Justin Foster, DE, ankle.

Three story lines

Can Clemson contain Wake’s defensive front? The Demon Deacons had 17 tackles for loss against Florida State and most of those came from their front four. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney and co-offensive coordinator Tony Elliott spoke this week about the depth of the Wake D-Line and compared it to Auburn. Wake leads the nation in tackles for loss with 50.

After beating Louisville on the road on Sept. 16, Clemson returned to Death Valley with somewhat of a hangover against Boston College and sort of played downed to the Eagles for three quarters. The Tigers scored 27 points in the fourth quarter to pull away. After last week’s big road win over Virginia Tech, some wonder if the Tigers will do the same against Wake Forest, especially considering it is scheduled to kickoff at noon.

Speaking of hangovers, how will the Demon Deacons respond after losing a game against Florida State that they should have won? Wake Forest lost a heartbreaker to the Seminoles last week after controlling the game well into the fourth quarter. Now they have to come on the road for a noon kick and try to knock off the No. 2 team in the country.

Wake Forest players to watch

John Wolford, QB: He is fourth in the ACC in passing efficiency with a 152.1 rating. He has thrown for 947 yards on 74-of-117 passing. He has eight touchdowns to one interception.

Greg Dortch, WR: He is Wolford’s favorite target. He is sixth in the ACC in receptions per game (6.0) and sixth in the league in yards per game (70.4). Dortch is also tied with Virginia Tech’s Cam Phillips for the most touchdown receptions (5).

Cam Serigne, TE: Serigne is perhaps the best tight end in the ACC. Though he has just nine receptions, four of them have gone for touchdowns. He is averaging 18.2 yards per catch with a long of 45, which also happens to be the longest pass play of the season for Wake.

Duke Ejiofor, DE: The redshirt junior is good enough to push for a starting job if he was on Clemson’s roster. The 6-foot-4, 275-pound defensive end already has 10.5 tackles for loss this year and three sacks. He is potentially a first-round pick in next year’s NFL Draft.

Mike Weaver, PK: It’s not often a kicker is a player to watch, but how many kickers are 10-for-10 on field goal attempts after five games? Weaver is one of them. He is automatic inside the 40-yard line. He has not attempted a kick longer than 39 yards. Weaver leads the team with 48 points. He has missed two PATs (18-20).

Wake Forest Scouting Report

Wake Forest has a balanced offense led by Wolford, who is fourth in the ACC in passing efficiency with a 152.1 rating. Dortch is his favorite target and is sixth in the ACC in both receptions and receptions yards, and second in reception touchdowns with five. Wake Forest is balanced on offense with 192 yards a game rushing and 226 passing.

On defense, Wake Forest is tied for second in the ACC in scoring, allowing 14.4 points per game. They are also second in the league in pass efficiency defense at 97.5 rating points, just ahead of Clemson’s 101.8. The top tackler is safety Jessie Bates with 39, while Ejiofor is second in the league in tackles for loss with 10.5.

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