INSIDE THE CLEMSON-WAKE FOREST GAME
Here’s a look at what might the difference when No. 14 Clemson (6-1, 3-1 ACC) travels to Wake Forest (4-3, 2-3) at 7:30 tonight (ESPN).
Thursday nights have not been kind to Clemson, especially Thursday nights in October at Wake Forest. Clemson’s 12-7 loss at Wake Forest in 2008 was Tommy Bowden’s last game as Clemson’s coach. Clemson is 2-9 all-time in Thursday night games. Wake Forest is 4-0 in Thursday night games.
Clemson hasn’t played in an ESPN Thursday night game since 2009, when it lost at Georgia Tech.
Urgency not autographs
Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said perhaps his players were signing too many autographs prior to their sluggish performance against Virginia Tech. Clemson cannot afford another such outing as the Tigers’ defense is still far from a sure-fire unit. The Tigers have help in their bounce-back efforts as Wake does not have an individual defender ranking in the top 80 nationally in tackles, tackles for loss or sacks. Wake does have an impact player in quick but undersized 5-11, 260-pound defensive tackle Nikita Whitlock. Clemson must shore up its pass protection after allowing five sacks last week.
The Sammy show returns?
Sammy Watkins hasn’t had a 100-yard receiving game in his last eight games, a streak beginning last year against Wake Forest when he injured his shoulder. With Watkins now back to full health, expect the Clemson star to break out sooner rather than later.
Clemson has an overwhelming talent advantage tonight and can prove to a national audience that last week’s defensive improvements were for real — not just the product of playing against Virginia Tech playcaller Mike O’Cain, who they’ve stymied in three straight meetings. Clemson can also continue to prove this is no longer a team that plays up or down to opponents, but to a standard.
Clemson 45, Wake Forest 27