CLEMSON — Last week, Clemson played about as bad as they have in 2015 but managed to come away with a 10-point win in a tough road venue. This week, the Tigers return to Death Valley for their last home game of the season.
Clemson traveled to Wake Forest last year as a three touchdown favorite and came away with a closer than expected 34-20 win. This year, the Tigers are a four touchdown favorite, but expect another tough outing.
Despite the Demon Deacons record of 3-7, they play with enough effort to make this game uncomfortable much longer than the Tigers will like.
Wake Forest has struggled mightily on offense this year and are 123rd nationally in scoring at 17 points per game. While that should mean the Tigers get a potential shutout, the Clemson defense has struggled against poor offenses the last few weeks.
Defensive Coordinator Brent Venables questioned whether his players were as committed to being great as they thought earlier in the season.
“I asked the guys if maybe these last few weeks when we haven’t looked very good, maybe that’s who we really are,” he said. “Maybe the first six or seven games of the year were smoke and mirrors. They didn’t like that. It was a very quiet room and when I said that, there were a lot of guys getting a little PO’d.”
The defense will need to harness that and utilize it Saturday if they hope to return to form.
Offensively, the Tigers have cruised through the past several weeks putting up impressive numbers each time out. Deshaun Watson has quietly worked his way up to being a Heisman contender and is playing as well as any quarterback in the nation. Between Watson’s performance and the wealth of playmakers on offense, the Tigers have averaged nearly 500 yards per game and over 38 points per game this year.
That spells trouble for a Wake Forest defense currently ranked 106th in total defense. The good news for the Demon Deacons is that those yards don’t always turn into points. They have looked very good at points this year with close losses to Louisville and Florida State. With the Deacons treating their trip to Death Valley as their own personal Super Bowl, the Tigers will need to match them in intensity if they want to avoid a potential let down.
Clemson and Wake Forest will kick off at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The game will be televised on ESPN 2, Tru Vista channel 24.
Reach James Inabinet at 803-635-4016.