College Football Picks: Wake Forest vs. Clemson

Willie Bee

Wednesday, September 25, 2013 12:43 PM UTC

Wednesday, Sep. 25, 2013 12:43 PM UTC

The final Saturday of September finds Wake Forest visiting Clemson where it's Homecoming Week. Join us for a preview and free college football pick in this ACC battle. 

Being a successful college football coach requires a variety of skill sets, including being a good salesman. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney has indeed enjoyed success since taking over the Tigers in 2008, but I'm not buying what he was trying to sell at his weekly press conference leading into Saturday's clash with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

"Love it," Swinney commented with regards to the defensive effort he saw in last week's 26-14 win at North Carolina State, the ACC opener for both schools. "I will take 11 more wins just like it. Right now, it's great when you play great defense."

Swinney will no doubt take 11 more wins, but I seriously doubt he wants them to be as close as the victory over the Wolfpack was. And I'm certain Clemson backers don't want 11 more wins at the expense of covering the spread after the Tigers failed to live up to the NCAA football odds for a second straight week.

Swinney's No. 3/4 ranked Tigers are big favorites this Saturday for their homecoming contest against Wake and its key-jingling fans who make the trip. Clemson started at -28.5 with that line moving up a half already at some betting outlets monitored by SBR's live college football odds. Early totals were around 60, but the scoreboard mark officially opened a little under that (58.5).

Will Boyd & Tigers Offense Have Another Big Day Vs. Wake?

Defense will definitely help the Tigers move to 4-0, but it's going to take a fair amount of offense to beat a spread that's in excess of four touchdowns. Let's not forget that as good as the defense played, it took the guys in stripes to negate another score for the Wolfpack that helped turn the momentum in Raleigh last Thursday.

Tajh Boyd and the Tigers provided more than a fair amount of offense in last year's 42-13 beat-down at Wake, which I suspect is how Swinney prefers all Clemson games to go. Boyd's 428 yards passing remains a school record, five of his 27 completions going for a score in a game that would've been called on a mercy rule in youth league football when the Tigers built a 35-zip lead in the first 29 minutes.

Boyd had a nice game in Clemson's season opener vs. Georgia, then only tuned up the following week vs. South Carolina State. The entire offense was out of synch at NC State last week, but kicked in gear in the second half thanks to the defense providing the big turnover.

Deacons Put Up Fight Last Trip To Clemson

Jim Grobe has also been successful at Wake Forest, where that means a 75-76 mark on Tobacco Road. He has experienced players on offense at skilled positions, almost an entire starting unit of upperclassmen. Led by Tanner Price, Josh Harris and Michael Campanaro, it's definitely a team that can make you work for a win or cover. Campanaro's ability to get the better of Clemson DBs Korrin Wiggins, Bashaud Breeland and Martin Jenkins will end up being the most crucial matchups in this game.

On the opposite side of the passing game, we all know that Sammy Watkins is the big target for Boyd downfield, but helping open that connection up has been Martavis Bryant also running routes, and he's in Swinney's doghouse this week. No official suspension, but Bryant isn't expected to start and will reportedly have a reduced role. Germone Hopper and a running game led by Roderick McDowell have to offset that. 

Making a weather prediction three days out is iffy at the very least, but all signs point to a nice afternoon for the 3:30 PM (ET) boot. That should be about the time the thermometer hits its peak (78º) with only a few clouds and light SE breeze. As always, get an update on that before getting down with a wager.

You have to go back to 1998 to find the last time Wake came away from Death Valley with a win, a 29-19 dubya for the Deacons notable more for the lousy team Clemson had that year as both teams finished 3-8 overall. Grobe's gang isn't going to end that streak Saturday, nor do I think they'll get the cover.

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Clemson should not be caught looking ahead to a visit to Syracuse next week -- if anything, that might be a letdown spot of sorts before a look-ahead -- and I expect the Tigers to roll for my free pick: Clemson, 45-14.

My pick: Tigers -28.5 a Bet365

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