College Football Game of the Week: No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 21 Wake Forest
One of college football’s top matchups of Week 4 belongs to the ACC, as the No. 5 Clemson Tigers will take on the No. 21 Wake Forest Demon Deacons in Winston-Salem as part of a crucial ACC Atlantic Division clash.
Both teams enter the game a perfect 3-0, with Clemson’s first victory of the season coming against conference opponent Georgia Tech. For the Demon Deacons, Saturday’s matchup will be the first against a conference opponent in the 2022 season.
After last season’s slow start that ultimately doomed their campaign, Clemson enters the matchup boasting the longest winning-streak in the nation, with nine straight victories dating back to last year. The most recent of those came with a 48-20 decision over Louisiana Tech, and Clemson has outscored their opponents by a combined score of 124-42 over their first three contests.
For Wake Forest, their most recent game was a nail-biter, as they stopped a potential game-winning two-point conversion attempt to eke out a 37-36 victory over Liberty.
With the upset avoided, the defending Atlantic Division champs are looking to avenge their only conference loss from last season against a team that seems to be regaining its powerhouse form.
But history is on Clemson’s side for this one, as the Tigers have taken the last 13 games in this series, with every matchup since 2012 being decided by double digits. Last year’s 48-27 decision in favor of Clemson was highlighted by an impressive ground attack from the Tigers, as they put up 333 rushing yards in contrast to Wake Forest’s 36.
Clemson will no doubt be looking to establish the ground game once again, as sophomore Will Shipley has gotten off to one of the most impressive starts of any running back in college football. Shipley is one of only three players in the country who have scored multiple touchdowns in each of their first three games so far this season.
Shipley and a committee of backs has helped take some of the pressure off of junior quarterback D. J. Uiagalelei, who has started off the season completing passes at a 65% clip with a 5:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Wake Forest’s offensive centerpiece will continue to be their junior quarterback Sam Hartman, who has thrown for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns in each of his two games after missing the season opener.
The key to the game figures to be whether Wake Forest’s explosive attack can be contained by Clemson’s disruptive defense. Wake Forest has scored at least 37 points in all three of their games this season, while Clemson has not allowed more than 20. Something will have to give on that front once kickoff rolls around on Saturday.
If Wake Forest can win the turnover battle and dial up some explosive plays customary of their offense, the opportunity could be there for them to score a monumental victory over a top-five team.
But if Clemson can continue to dominate the line of scrimmage and force the up tempo offense into crucial mistakes, then it’s hard to imagine the Tigers coming out of Saturday’s game as anything other than the clear top dog in the ACC conference.
Clemson leads the all-time series 69-17-1, but game number 88 sets up as one of the most competitive in the matchup’s history, opening the door for a potentially season-defining moment for either one of these two programs come Saturday afternoon.
Kasey Kreider is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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