College Football – (21) Clemson Set to Crush Wake Forest (Thursday)

College Football – (21) Clemson Set to Crush Wake Forest (Thursday)

John BensonNo comments

(21) Clemson Tigers (-22.5 43 o/u) at Wake Forest Demon Deacons

If No. 21 ranked Clemson (6-2, 5-1 ACC) is going to finish strong, the Tigers will need injured quarterback Deshaun Watson back healthy. Originally, it was thought the freshman would be back for the team’s Nov. 15 game against Georgia Tech;l but now, head coach Dabo Swinney has hinted that an early return against Wake Forest (2-6, 0-4 ACC) on Thursday night is possible.

Swinney said, “I don’t think anything is off the table. It’s really the strength of the finger. It’s getting better and better everyday. It’s kind of one of those things where it’s on him. I think he’s very encouraged as we are as coaches.”

The Tigers have struggled at times with senior Cole Stoudt under center. (To put things in perspective, Watson had 12 touchdown passes on 112 attempts over five games before getting injured. Stoudt has just two on 182 attempts over the course of the year.) The team has still found a way to win five straight, though, and is getting it done in different ways with Watson on the sideline. Last week against Syracuse, freshman running back Wayne Gallman had his first career 100-yard game. Throughout the five-game winning streak, Clemson’s defense has been indomitable, holding opponents to 14.2 points per game. And they haven’t given up more than 17 in the last four.

“We keep finding ways,” said Swinney. “This is a battle-tested group. They’re tough-minded.”

As for the Demon Deacons, it’s been another tough season. Currently, the squad ranks dead last in total offense and rushing, and they are fourth-last in scoring. (That’s in all of FBS, not just the ACC.) Wake Forest isn’t showing signs of progress, either, getting outscored 116-37 during its last four games.

While all of the Tigers are likely primed to pad their stat lines, the defensive line, in particular, should be licking its chops. Wake Forest’s freshman quarterback, John Wolford, has been sacked 29 times this season, while the Clemson defense is tied for tenth in the nation with 28 sacks.

Demon Deacons coach Dave Clawson, who is currently in his first year, said. “We’re learning some painful lessons. We’ve got a lot of things to clean up. We’re early in this process and if we can establish effort as a starting point then we are headed in the right direction.”

Considering these two programs are at opposite ends of the spectrum, look for the Tigers to cover the 22.5-point spread against the feckless Demon Deacons, especially if Watson is in the lineup.

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