Week 4 Preview: Clemson at Wake Forest

Wake Forest QB Sam Hartman will lead his team up against Clemson on Saturday as a seven-point home underdog.

No. 5 Clemson Tigers at No. 21 Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Line: Clemson -7

Total: 55.5

Where: Truist Field, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

When: Saturday, 9/24 at 12:00 p.m. ET


No. 21 Wake Forest was hoping to have ESPN’s College GameDay on hand for its game against No. 5 Clemson on Saturday afternoon, but the Demon Deacons will have to do without the additional energy, as the show is headed to Knoxville for Tennessee vs. Florida instead.

The Demon Deacons need any help they can get when they face Clemson, a team that has won 13 consecutive meetings against them. The streak began in 2008 and continued last November when the Tigers notched a 48-27 win as 3.5-point home favorites.

Oddsmakers are expecting Clemson to make it 14 games in a row on Saturday afternoon at Truist Field, opening the spread at -7.5. There has been some early betting action on Wake Forest, dropping the line to -7 as of Wednesday afternoon. The total has also seen some movement, going from 57 to 56 after a few days of betting.

Clemson has won each of its games by at least 21 points this season, beating Georgia Tech, Furman and Louisiana Tech. Wake Forest is also unbeaten heading into this matchup, with its three victories coming against VMI, Vanderbilt and Liberty.

DraftKings has the Tigers priced as -130 favorites to win the ACC, while Wake Forest is a 16-1 longshot. Clemson has the fifth-shortest odds to win the College Football Playoff (14-1) and is +155/-190 to make the four-team field.

Despite winning all three games by decisive final scores, Clemson has not quite rounded into form just yet. The Tigers needed a huge second half to pull away from Georgia Tech, and they only scored 13 points in the first half against Louisiana Tech last week. Their lone ATS cover came against the Yellow Jackets, but they were only leading by four points in the third quarter of that game.

This is nothing new for the program though, as they are 1-9 ATS in their last 10 September games under Dabo Swinney. They have not covered the spread in a September road game since 2019.

“I don’t think anybody knows who anybody is right now after three ballgames,” Swinney said. “I know the rankings and all that stuff—we’re whatever, a top-5 team, but that’s all based on past success. It really is at this point. And that’s great to have some street cred if you will. You have to go earn it. So that’s what we’re in the process of trying to do.”

Starting quarterback DJ Uiagalelei has thrown for 662 yards, five touchdowns and one interception so far, completing 64.8 percent of his passes. Sophomore running back Will Shipley has rushed 32 times for 249 yards and six scores, averaging 7.8 yards per carry.

They are facing a Wake Forest team that is led by junior quarterback Sam Hartman, who has completed 62.0 percent of his passes for 625 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions after missing the season opener due to medical reasons. Hartman ranks tenth in ACC history in passing yards—he threw for 312 yards against Clemson last season.

The Demon Deacons have a balanced rushing attack that features three running backs who have combined for more than 350 yards. Junior wide receiver A.T. Perry has been Hartman’s top target, catching 12 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown. Wake Forest has won 11 straight home games, but it needed a stop on a two-point conversion attempt to hold on as a 17-point favorite against Liberty last week.

Clemson is on a nine-game winning streak dating back to last season, and it has gone 17-3 in its last 20 road games. The Tigers have gone ‘under’ in four of their last five games, while Wake Forest has gone ‘under’ in four of its last six games.

The pick: Clemson -7

It is never smart to rely too much on historical trends when handicapping a game, but I think it can be detrimental to completely throw them out the window as well. Clemson has dominated—there’s not a better word to use here—Wake Forest in recent years, winning 13 consecutive meetings. The Demon Deacons finally had a solid team last year during what was a slight rebuilding year for Clemson, but the Tigers still won handily. Neither team put together a complete performance last week in what was a look-ahead spot for both programs. Clemson was without several key starters though, some of whom are going to return this week. The Tigers are going to control the line of scrimmage, so Wake Forest will need a near-perfect performance from Hartman if it has a shot to win this game. I think the more likely scenario is a double-digit win for Clemson, which has covered the spread in six of its last nine games. This was a trickier game to handicap when the line was -7.5, but everything points to the Tigers at -7.

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