No. 3 Clemson appears to have everything on the table in terms of achieving its goals for 2019 with Wake Forest coming into town for Senior Day as the Tigers are staring down an 8-0 record in ACC play. The defending national champions have owned the conference in recent years, and that dominance will look to continue on Saturday.
In addition to the recent move up in the College Football Playoff rankings, the fans in Death Valley will have plenty to celebrate. Clemson’s seniors rank among the most successful four-year classes in FBS history, attempting to win their 52nd game on Saturday to move into a tie for fourth all-time in FBS history. The outlook for the game suggests that the day might have a coronation feel for the home fans if the Tigers are to meet the expectations of a 30-point favorite.
If Clemson’s recent run of success — winning its last five games by an average of 41.6 points per game — continues unhindered by Wake Forest, the Tigers will be two wins away from their fifth-straight College Football Playoff appearance.
Clemson: With no games left against ranked opponents, Clemson’s aim for impressing the selection committee will be in playing to its own established standard as one of the best college football programs in the country. But while the story for the Tigers is about “Clemson vs. Clemson,” there are a few facts that should point the committee to feeling better about the team’s top-four ranking. For starters, Clemson is the only team in the country with eight wins against Power Five opponents. No one else has more than six, and the Tigers have won seven of those eight games against Power Five opponents by 14 or more points. Clemson’s offense has not turned the ball over in three games and its defense has held five consecutive opponents to a completion percentage of 50.0% or worse.
Saturday’s storyline may end up being a celebration of Travis Etienne’s place as one of the top running backs in ACC history. Two more rushing touchdowns ties Etienne with former Pitt star James Conner for the career conference record, and given his production — Etienne averages 8.9 yards per carry and nearly one touchdown for every 10 touches — it’s likely that we’ll see that record set before the end of the regular season.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons’ offense took a devastating blow when it lost star wide receiver Sage Surratt for the rest of the season because of an injury suffered in the loss to Virginia Tech. Heading into Week 12, Surratt was the only Power Five player with 1,000 receiving yards, averaging 15.17 yards per catch and tied for fifth nationally with 11 receiving touchdowns. He’s been the key all season to a Wake Forest offense that ranks second only to Clemson among ACC teams in both scoring offense and total offense. Without Surratt in the lineup, it’s tough to imagine Wake Forest creating the explosive plays necessary to really put the Tigers on upset alert on their home turf.
Date: Saturday, Nov. 16 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Clemson Memorial Stadium — Clemson, South Carolina
TV: ABC | Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Game prediction, picks
The ACC might be down this year, but Clemson’s run of 30-plus point wins is more about the Tigers than it is about the conference. Wake Forest, like the other teams in Clemson’s path, is a strong football team that is going to end up looking decidedly outmatched on the same field. The Death Star is fully operational, lay the points. Pick: Clemson (-32.5)
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