Opening Week: Suspension Opens Door for Tulane Cover vs. Wake Forest

Sunday, July 8, 2018 11:30 PM UTC

Sunday, Jul. 8, 2018 11:30 PM UTC

Rising Wake Forest will be without its starting quarterback on Aug. 30 when the Demon Deacons open the 2018 college football season at Tulane.

Wake Forest (8-5 SU, 8-4-1 ATS in 2017) at Tulane (5-7 SU, 7-4-1 ATS)Thursday, Aug. 30, 8 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)Free NCAAF Pick: Tulane +8Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

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The first full day of college football in the 2018 season is Aug. 30, and one interesting matchup is Wake Forest, a team on the rise under excellent coach Dave Clawson, traveling to Tulane – a program also headed on the right track under Willy Fritz. It’s an 8 p.m. ET kickoff from Yulman Stadium in the Big Easy. The game was moved from its original date of Sept. 1.

Wake Forest is 1-2 all-time against Tulane but won the last matchup 7-3 on the opening weekend of the 2016 season in Winston-Salem – yeah, that went ‘under’ the total. I actually remember that game because it was so ugly. Wake had 175 yards and Tulane 280. The lone TD was a run by Deacons QB Kendall Hinton in the second quarter. More on him shortly. It was the Green Wave’s first game under Fritz.

This season, the Deacons welcome back 13 starters, eight offensively, from last year’s 8-5 team that beat Texas A&M 55-52 in a wild Belk Bowl. Clawson has worked wonders with the ACC program as the eight wins were the school’s most since 2008. The Deacons are given a win total of six this year at 5Dimes, with the ‘under’ a -145 favorite. That seems low. After this one, Wake plays its next five at home.

Tulane, of the American Athletic Conference, was 5-7 last year, Fritz’s second. He was previously very successful in two years at Georgia Southern and recently got an extension from Tulane. The Green Wave haven’t played in a bowl since 2013 but nearly were bowl-eligible in 2017, losing a 41-38 crusher in the regular-season finale at SMU to just miss out. The Mustangs made a last-second goal-line stand. Tulane is given a win total of 5 for 2018.

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🚨Attention @WakeFB fans🚨

You'll want to keep your eyes on these three potential breakout players this season! #GoDeacs

— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) June 29, 2018

Suspension Big Blow for Deacons

Deacons four-year starting QB John Wolford has moved on; he led an offense that ranked 21st in scoring (35.3 ppg) and 17th in yardage (465.8 ypg) last season. Hinton, a redshirt junior mentioned above, won the job in spring camp but has been suspended the first three games – along with reserve tight end Thomas Cole – for some off-field issues.

Hinton has made four career starts -- he beat out Wolford in 2016 but then got hurt -- and played in five games last season, passing for 399 yards and four touchdowns and for 190 yards and a score. Redshirt sophomore Jamie Newman and freshman Sam Hartman will compete for playing time in the first three games. Wake does return all five starting offensive linemen along with sophomore WR Greg Dortch. He was off to a monster start as a freshman last year with 53 catches for 722 yards and nine scores but didn’t play after October due to an abdominal injury and surgery.

Tulane brings back 14 starters, led by dual-threat quarterback Jonathan Banks. The transfer started 11 games last year and was 124 of 219 for 1,797 yards, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also rushed for 592 yards and seven touchdowns. Leading rusher Dontrel Hilliard (1,091 yards, 12 TDs) is gone but leading receivers Terren Encalade (39 catches, 730 yards 4 TDs) and Darnell Mooney (34, 599, 4) are back.

The Green Wave played one Power 5 team last year, losing 56-14 at Oklahoma, which is obviously on a different level than Wake Forest. Tulane’s last win over a current Power 5 team was Rutgers in 2010, and the Knights weren’t one back then. Since 1995, the Green Wave are 1-8 SU & ATS against ACC teams. That lone straight-up win was against Wake in ‘95.

  • Green Wave are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 home games.
  • Green Wave are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 non-conference games.

I don’t see Tulane pulling the upset, but Wake Forest figures to struggle offensively without an experienced quarterback – something the Green Wave have. Take the points for your college football pick.

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