The Wake Forest Demon Deacons will put their undefeated record on the line Saturday against the Boston College Eagles in an important ACC Atlantic division clash in Chestnut Hill. Wake Forest improved to 4-0 last week after beating Elon 49-7 in an FCS tune-up before the official start of conference play (the Demon Deacons beat ACC rival North Carolina 24-18 in Week 3 in a non-conference contest). Boston College, already 1-0 in the ACC following its 35-28 win over Virginia Tech in the season opener, improved to 3-1 overall with its 30-16 victory over Rutgers last Saturday.
Wake Forest at Boston College
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 28 at 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network
Spread: Wake Forest -7
When Wake Forest Has the Ball
Wake Forest has quietly emerged as one of the most potent offenses in the country. The Demon Deacons currently rank No. 11 nationally in total offense (533.8 ypg), and have averaged 6.61 yards per play. Wake Forest has stressed opponents by running an FBS-high 323 plays this season. The Demon Deacons have averaged 80.75 offensive snaps per game this season, which is the third in the country behind only Texas Tech (84.33) and Maryland (82.00).
Quarterback Jamie Newman has orchestrated much of the success for the Deacons. Newman has completed 71.1 percent of his passes for 1,278 yards and 12 touchdowns this season (with top receivers Sage Surratt and Scotty Washington catching five TD passes apiece), while averaging 9.5 yards per pass attempt, and throwing only two interceptions. The junior signal-caller also leads the team with three rushing touchdowns and ranks second with 160 rushing yards.
Boston College will certainly have its hands full with the talented, up-tempo Wake Forest offense. The Eagles currently rank 12th in the ACC and No. 103 nationally in total defense (438.3 ypg) and sit 13th in the conference and 97th overall at 6.02 yards per play allowed. Boston College has been susceptible to both the run and pass, and ranks No. 12 in the league in both categories, statistically.
When Boston College Has the Ball
Though Boston College has struggled to keep opponents in check offensively, the Eagles have improved on offense. Boston College currently ranks third in the ACC in total offense (458.3 ypg) thanks to what has been the top rushing attack in the conference. The Eagles have gained 252 rushing yards per game this season, good for 20th in the FBS. Running back AJ Dillon is second in the ACC with 468 rushing yards and is tied with leading rusher Cam Akers with six touchdowns on the ground.
Can Wake Forest slow down Boston College's run game? The Demon Deacons have played best against the run this season, having held opponents to 3.47 yards per carry, which ranks 48th overall. Wake Forest also has limited opponents to 121.5 rushing yards per game (46th). But there may be more opportunities for success for the Boston College passing attack as the Demon Deacons rank 76th nationally in pass defense (236.8), having allowed 7.2 yards per attempt thus far.
Given their playing styles earlier this decade, casual college football fans would be forgiven for thinking the late afternoon matchup between Wake Forest and Boston College would be a slow, methodical, defensive slugfest. However, times have changed.
The Demon Deacons now feature one of the most up-tempo offenses in the country, and Boston College has improved offensively as well. Not only is AJ Dillon still one of the best players in the ACC, but the Eagles have also developed a passing attack on the strength on experienced quarterback Anthony Brown, who is averaging around 200 passing yards per game, 7.8 yards per attempt, and has six touchdown passes and no interceptions in the early going.
Both defenses have also taken a step back, though the Eagles have regressed most to date. Wake Forest, led by All-ACC candidate cornerback Essang Bassey and linebacker Justin Strnad, should provide just enough defense for the Demon Deacons to pick up an important ACC win on the road, and keep its undefeated record intact.