Wake Forest vs. No. 13 Clemson
Location: Winston-Salem, NC
Venue: BB&T Field
Kickoff: Thursday at 7:30 PM EST
Wake Forest: 4-3, 2-3 ACC (Beat Virginia 16-10)
Clemson: 6-1, 3-1 ACC (Beat Virginia Tech 38-17)
Series history: The Tigers have an all-time series lead of 59-17-1 and have won seven of the last 10, including a 31-28 decision in Death Valley last season.
Jim Grobe is 3-10 versus Clemson, and 0-3 against the Tigers since Dabo Swinney was named head coach.
What is on the line? A win would put the Demon Deacons one victory away from becoming bowl-eligible, while the Tigers are still in contention for a spot in the ACC Championship and a BCS bowl bid.
Quotes of the week
"Obviously for us [it's] a short week. I'm proud of our guys for how they competed last week. It was a big win for us. I'm proud of them for how they've come back in with a quick turnaround Sunday, Monday [and] Tuesday and trying to prepare to go on the road and play at Wake Forest, a good football team. They've competed their tails off in every single game, always played us very tough, very well-coached and we'll have to continue to improve as a team and play well, especially on the road to have a chance to win up there. I'm sure it will be a great game. I look forward to being a part of it." - Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney
"It's what we all signed up for to play a big-time ACC opponent. We really should have won against Clemson last year. I feel like we outplayed them, and we kind of just broke down at the end. That makes it just that much more important. We have to come back from last year, because we should have won that game and now we know what we have to do to come out with a victory this week. We have to cut down on mistakes and take care of the ball, and if everyone does their job we'll be fine and we can come out with the victory." - Wake Forest wide receiver Brandon Terry
"They've got big-time players everywhere, guys that you're going to see play on Sunday, and they're well-coached. Sometimes you teams that have great talent, but they don't always play as well. This is a well-coached team in addition to being a talented football team. They're obviously one of the teams in the country, a top 20 team, still right in the thick of things to win the ACC." - Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe
Keys to the game
1) All Black & Gold
This is one of those games where everything must go right for Wake. It must get every break, bounce, call, and absolutely cannot afford to turn the ball over or commit foolish penalties.
The Deacs cannot give the Tigers any freebies whatsoever. It's all or nothing, because this Clemson team has the firepower to score often and quickly.
2) Get Price and Campanaro going
Wake Forest's offense lost its luster when Michael Campanaro broke his hand in the loss to Duke less than a month ago, but hope his return will revitalize and reenergize a stagnant unit.
It is imperative for Tanner Price and him to get into a rhythm early as he transitions back into the flow of a real-game situation.
Look for Clemson to test Campanaro early, which may free up Terry and others to make plays in the passing game.
Containment … it's easier said than done. However, the discipline and mental toughness of the Demon Deacon defenders will be challenged potent offense from the very get-go.
"I think you've got to be balanced," Grobe said. "You can't focus on a guy. I think the Hopkins is fantastic, and he's really filled the void for Sammy Watkins. I think Sammy Watkins had a pretty good day last week against Virginia Tech, so with those two and not just those two. They have a lot of good receivers and tight ends for these guys, and then the Ellington kid is one of the two or three best running backs in the league hands down and of course Tajh Boyd's been playing great all year. They're just very talented. I don't think there's any way you focus on any one of those guys. You've just got to be pretty balanced and try to mix up your fronts and coverages and hope that you can bottle it up right a few times, but they got a lot of guys that can hurt you obviously."
"It's not option football. It's not where you can say okay I got the quarterback, I got the dive back, I got the pitch back, that kind of stuff, but I do think you got to be where you belong. If you're a flat player, if you're a half player, if you're middle dropper, if you got a third or a half field coverage you got to be right where you're supposed to be, because these guys are so explosive. If you get out of position it's magnified. We got to get a lot of people around the football and you don't want to get too many guys singled up on these guys without help. You got to have people where they belong, so it will be important. We've got to be very assignment conscious."
If Wake Forest can at all slow down or stymie the Orange Machine, a unit that averages 40.8 points per game, the Deacs will have a chance to pull off the upset. For that to happen remember the first key.
4) Special teams
Chad Hedlund restored consistency to the kicking game with his three field goals, and Lovell Jackson showed play-making in the return category when he ran back a punt 60 yards to setup Josh Harris's 16-yard scoring scamper in last week's win at Virginia.
Wake will need more of that against the Tigers.
Alexander Kinal, who averages 40.2 yards per punt, has pinned opponents inside their own 20-yard-line 18 times this season. He is capable of giving Clemson bad starting field position, making him a valuable weapon.
The kick and punt coverage teams must fill the lanes, and get the downfield to make tackles while not allowing long returns.
Clemson has talent. That talent is going to make plays and score points, so the Demon Deacons cannot get discouraged, but press on to the next play.
If Wake Forest can weather the blows, and deal out some of its own this game should be similar to last season's knockdown dragout.