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Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs. Indiana Hoosiers Preview and Prediction

Devine Redding

Devine Redding

Few probably expected this matchup between ACC and Big Ten programs to be one with two undefeated teams at the start of the season, but Wake Forest has done its part to arrive in Bloomington this weekend with a 3-0 record. Three games in and Dave Clawson’s program has already matched its 2015 and '14 win totals. A win on the road against an offensively-talented Indiana would do well in terms of setting Wake Forest up for a potential bowl trip at the end of the season.

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Wake Forest at Indiana

Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 24 at 3:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Big Ten Network

Spread: Indiana -6.5

Three Things to Watch

1. QB John Wolford returns to starting role

Wolford had previously been Wake Forest's starting quarterback before being replaced by Kendall Hinton. Wolford returns to the starting role this week following a knee sprain injury to Hinton last week against Delaware. With Hinton out for the next two to four games, Wolford will be tasked with keeping the momentum going during a key stretch for the Demon Deacons.

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Wolford stepped in last week to complete 13 of 24 pass attempts for 155 yards and a touchdown with one interception against the Blue Hens.

2. Can Wake Forest's rushing defense slow down Devine Redding?

Through three games this season, Wake Forest has done well against the run. Wake Forest has allowed just 79.67 rushing yards per game, with opponents rushing for an average of 2.41 yards per attempt. Those numbers will be put to the test against Indiana and Redding. Redding has rushed for 245 yards and an average of 5.1 yards per attempt. He and Indiana’s running game will be key for the Hoosiers against Wake Forest, and this should be the Demon Deacons' toughest test on the ground yet.

As good as Indiana’s running game appears to be, it has just one rushing touchdown in its first two games. Look to see if that changes in this one.

3. Which Indiana offense shows up first?

Will it be the Hoosiers who started off well two weeks ago at home against Ball State, building a 20-0 lead at halftime? Or will we see an Indiana offense that looked confused and off the mark in the season opener on the road against FIU before coming on strong at the end of the game to pull away for the win? Indiana is coming off a bye week, so whether the Hoosiers benefit from that or lose any momentum in the early going remains in question. Will they have things cleaned up and ready to execute to perfection once they get back on the field, or will the early bye week lead to a bit of an adjustment once facing an opponent again? Bank on the Hoosiers getting off on the right foot.

Final Analysis

If there is one thing you can tend to trust with Indiana since hiring Kevin Wilson as head coach, it is that the offense will be ready to go. Devine Redding brings a solid running game to the field and quarterback Richard Lagow appears to be settling in as Indiana’s starting quarterback. Lagow tossed three touchdowns two weeks ago against Ball State. The downer for Indiana has typically been the defense. That has not been the case in the first two games, with three turnovers forced two weeks ago and limiting FIU to just 13 points. Look to see Indiana jump to a quick lead and have the defense do just enough to keep Wake Forest at an arm’s length the rest of the way.

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Prediction: Indiana 29, Wake Forest 23

— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and The Comeback as well as hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook