Wake Forest, nicknamed "The Swiss" by Mark Packer of the Packer and Durham Show on ACC Network, still has the ACC Atlantic Division title in its sights heading into the final week of the regular season. Those Demon Deacons (9-2, 6-1 ACC) will head up to Chestnut Hill to take on Boston College (6-5, 2-5) in what sets up as a tricky game, since Alumni Stadium is an environment that can lull a visiting team to sleep if they aren't careful.
It was another rough trip to Death Valley for Wake Forest last week as it lost 48-27 to a salty Clemson team that was happy to delay the Deacs' division title celebration. The combination of turnovers (three) and penalties (seven) played a large part in the loss. Sam Hartman completed 27 of 43 passes for 312 yards, one touchdown, and an interception. The Tigers also did a great job of locking down the running game for Wake Forest by limiting them to 36 yards. Stopping the run was an issue for the defense, as Clemson rushed for 333 yards on 54 attempts.
Boston College fell into a deep hole in the first half against Florida State and trailed by 23 in the third quarter. However, Boston College would not go away quietly, rattling off 20 unanswered points that were not quite enough in the 26-23 loss. The loss will haunt this team during the offseason because they were too flat in the first half. Jordan Travis took advantage of the Eagles' defense as he completed 20 of 34 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns. The red zone was another difference-maker in this game, as Boston College was 2-of-3 while the Seminoles were a perfect 4-of-4. Looking ahead to Saturday, this team must put the Florida State loss behind them and embrace the opportunity to play spoiler against the Demon Deacons.
No. 18 Wake Forest at Boston College
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 27 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Wake Forest -4.5
When Wake Forest Has the Ball
The offense has been explosive all season long as they are averaging 43.1 points per game. Hartman is the right kind of quarterback for this must-win situation. The redshirt sophomore has thrown for 3,475 yards, 31 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. A.T. Perry (52 rec., 1,031 yds., 11 TDs) and Jaquarii Roberson (57, 953, 8) are a matchup nightmare at wide receiver, and it will be fascinating to see how the Eagles deal with those two guys. Mother Nature is throwing Wake Forest a bone this week, as the projected forecast is calling for partly cloudy skies and temperatures of around 40 degrees. That means the entire playbook should be available for offensive coordinator Warren Ruggiero.
Boston College has a big test ahead of it this week in preparation for the Demon Deacons' offensive attack. The Eagles will allow some yards between the 20s on Saturday, but they have to avoid giving up explosive plays. Three other things that need to happen for a chance to win are great red zone defense, dominating third down, and forcing turnovers. Wake Forest has scored in 50 of 53 red zone appearances (sixth nationally), and they are converting 50.6 percent of their third-down situations (seventh). Boston College has done a great job of getting off the field on third down, as the Eagles have held opponents to a 31 percent conversion rate (12th). So, this will be a textbook example of strength vs. strength where something must give on Saturday.
When Boston College Has the Ball
Phil Jurkovec is a talented enough quarterback to keep the Eagles in the game this week. The redshirt junior is looking to bounce back from a tough outing against Florida State. Jurkovec completed 10 of 24 passes for 148 yards, one touchdown, and an interception against the Seminoles. The running game must be a factor this week led by Pat Garwo III, who has rushed 980 yards and seven touchdowns. Bottom line, Boston College must throw out conventional wisdom this week on offense and do whatever it takes to finish drives with touchdowns. Settling for field goals is not an option for the Eagles because they will get blown out if that happens.
Wake Forest has had its issues all season long when it comes to stopping the run — the Deacs are allowing 213.7 yards per game and 449.4 yards per game overall on defense. Red zone defense is another storyline to watch this week as they need limit opportunities for Boston College inside the 20-yard line. Getting off the field on third down will be important as always. The defense needs to keep the Eagles at 40 percent or less in that category on Saturday.
Head coach Dave Clawson and his staff have done an excellent job in 2021 and overall since taking over in Winston Salem. They have brought stability and growth to a school with one of the smallest enrollments of all the Power 5. A trip to Charlotte to take on Pittsburgh awaits this Wake Forest team if they can pick up a win on Saturday. It won't be easy for the Demon Deacons, but in the end, they have too many weapons on offense for Boston College to handle on Saturday afternoon. Wake Forest will win another shootout to punch its ticket to the ACC Championship Game, setting up a showdown between two very entertaining offenses next week.
Prediction: Wake Forest 41, Boston College 34
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