The Final Breakdown

CLEMSON - Clemson's push for bowl eligibility moves to Winston-Salem on Saturday.

WHAT: Clemson at Wake Forest
WHERE: BB&T Field (31,500) - Winston-Salem, N.C.
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 20 (2 p.m. EST)
SPREAD: Clemson -14

The last time the Tigers played at Wake Forest, Tommy Bowden was coaching in what would be his final game. The Demon Deacons won 12-7 that Thursday night and Dabo Swinney was a named interim head coach the following Monday.

In Swinney's second season as head coach, Clemson is 5-5 (3-4 ACC). Not only do the Tigers have their sights set on becoming bowl eligible with a win against Wake Forest (2-8, 1-5 ACC), but also on their first road victory this season.

Clemson is 0-4 on the road with each loss by no more than seven points.

Wake Forest's only two wins are at home, and both of those were back in early September.

Jim Grobe has given Clemson fits in Winston-Salem. Although he has a 3-6 all-time mark against the Tigers, all three of Grobe's wins against Clemson were at BB&T Field.

This will be Swinney's second game against Wake Forest. Last year, Clemson won 38-3— the first of five-straight ACC wins for the Tigers.

Here's a look at what to expect Saturday:

If there ever was an opportunity for Clemson to light up the scoreboard through the air, that chance comes this week.

The Demon Deacons have allowed an average of 235 yards passing this season. That's 88th in the nation (11th ACC).

The Demon Deacons have allowed an average of 235 yards passing this season. That's 88th in the nation (11th ACC). (Roy Philpott)
All but one opponent (Boston College) has thrown multiple touchdown passes against Wake Forest this season. In all this season, the Demon Deacons have given up 26 touchdown passes.

Keep in mind it's been a while since Clemson has thrown more than one touchdown pass in a game. The last time—Kyle Parker's two touchdown passes at Auburn.

He's thrown for nine scores this season and is sixth in the ACC with 1,768 yards and has an efficiency rating of 111.45, ninth in the league.

And once again, Clemson's wide receiving corps will be shorthanded. This time it's Bryce McNeal who's on the shelf with a heel injury. Marquan Jones will play in the slot receiver position in his place.

After weeks of chipping away at Dwayne Allen's No. 1 spot, DeAndre Hopkins is now the leading pass catcher for the Tigers.

The freshman wide receiver has hauled in 31 receptions for 372 yards. Allen has 30 catches for 350 yards.

Fortunately, for Parker, both Hopkins and Allen are healthy. So is Jaron Brown.

Wake Forest, which has a pass efficiency defense rating of 150.54, is 110th in the country and last in the ACC. All the more reason to believe Parker will have success in the passing game.

Those porous stats will make Tajh Boyd's life easier on the passing plays scripted for him in the early part of Saturday's game.

The Clemson offensive line again proved to be one of the sturdy units on the team with last week's performance against Florida State. The Seminoles, which have the nation's best pass rush, sacked Parker only once, but it wasn't even a true hit. Parker stepped out of bounds for a 2-yard loss on a bootleg.

Defensive end Kyle Wilber leads Wake Forest with six sacks this season. Only two other Demon Deacons have recorded multiple sacks this season.


The running game is the only chance for Wake Forest to have success on offense. The Demon Deacons have averaged 162.2 yards this season, which is 49th in the country and fifth in the ACC.

It's the Joshes that have paced the ground game.

Josh Adams (pictured above) leads the team with 544 yards and five touchdowns while Josh Harris has picked up 266 yards and two scores. (Getty Images)
Josh Adams leads the team with 544 yards and five touchdowns. Josh Harris has picked up 266 yards and two scores.

Quarterback Tanner Price is a threat with the ball in his hands. He's rushed for 115 yards and three touchdowns.

But times have been tough, of late.

Since Wake Forest touched up Virginia Tech for 254 yards rushing, the Demon Deacons have rushed for a total of 168 yards in the last three games, including a -3-yard effort against Maryland.

Here's a bold prediction: after Saturday, Wake Forest will have less than 200 yards rushing in their last four games.

It's not so bold to say that, given the play of the Clemson line.

The group has performed like it's one of the best units in the country. Along with Bronko Nagurski Award finalist Da'Quan Bowers, who is second in the country with 2.2 tackles for loss per game, the Tigers are getting solid play in the interior from Brandon Thompson and Jarvis Jenkins.

But the tackles will be down a player, once again.

Miguel Chavis is expected to miss Saturday's game, even though he played through an ankle injury at Florida State last week. The injury has already sidelined him for two games this year.

Although the interior portion of the line is short-handed again, Thompson and Jenkins are playing at a very high level, and it's their play that's minimized the shortcomings at linebacker.

The linebackers have been struck with an injury, too. Brandon Maye is likely to sit this weekend after missing the first three practices this week because of a concussion. Jonathan Willard is expected to start in his place on the weak-side.

There will be plenty of option and misdirection thrown at Clemson, but exactly how it's going to look is a bit of an unknown. Earlier this week, defensive coordinator Kevin Steele said Wake Forest switches up formation and personnel use from week to week, making it difficult to gauge what's going to be seen this weekend.

The Tigers' defense, which has given up one touchdown in each of the last five games, shouldn't have much problem snuffing out the Demon Deacon running game.


Troubles in the field goal kicking game have Clemson again wondering, "what if?"

Chandler Catanzaro will handle placekicking duties once again this week for the Tigers. (Roy Philpott)
Saturday should be the first time in several weeks that the Tigers haven't had to worry about every single scoring opportunity.

But that's not to downplay the importance of getting Chandler Catanzaro's confidence back up. The redshirt freshman has struggled this season, going 9 of 16 on field goals.

One of the two misses last week at Florida State wasn't his fault. Holder Michael Wade called for the snap before Catanzaro gave the OK.

Because Wake Forest ranks in the lower half of the country when defending both kick and punt returns, Clemson will have an advantage with their return teams.

Demon Deacon wide receiver Michael Campanaro is the fourth-best kick returner in the ACC, averaging 24.25 yards per return.

The Tigers' top returner, defensive back Marcus Gilchrist, is third and second in the conference in punt and kickoffs, respectively.

Despite the field goal kicking woes, Clemson gets the edge because there's a greater threat to impact the game with a return.


Against Florida State last week, Jamie Harper played like the five-star running back that Clemson expected him to be when signed in the class of 2008.

Against Florida State last week, Jamie Harper played like the five-star running back that Clemson expected him to be when signed in the class of 2008. (Roy Philpott)
He rushed 27 times for 143 yards and a touchdown in the Tigers' 16-13 loss in Tallahassee, bringing his season totals to 137 carries for 526 yards and five scores.

Look for another bit game from Harper, who'll continue carrying the load as Andre Ellington recovers from a foot injury.

Wake Forest's rushing defense is giving up 196.2 yards a game this season, which is 100th in the country and 11th in the ACC.

Against N.C. State last week, Wake Forest allowed just 59 yards rushing. That's the only sub 100-yard total by a Demon Deacon opponent since Presbyterian had 70 in the season opener. Since then, six teams have had at least 200 yards rushing against Wake Forest.


Price has played quarterback in all nine games this season. He's completed 110 of 197 passes for 1,125 with seven touchdowns and eight interceptions to go along with an efficiency rating of 107.41 (10th in the ACC).

Bowers, the nation's top pass rusher, will be going against an offensive line that's given up a fair share of sacks—1.6 a game. (Roy Philpott)
Wake Forest has a pair of receivers with over 30 catches. Devon Brown leads the team with 32 receptions. Chris Givens has a team-high 484 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

In case the numbers weren't an indication, the Demon Deacon passing attack is almost dead-last among all teams in the country with 150.2 yards per game (111th nationally, 11th ACC).

Clemson is among the best in defending the pass. The Tigers' pass efficiency defense rating of 114.37 is 22nd in the country and fourth-best in the ACC.

Bowers, the nation's top pass rusher, will be going against an offensive line that's given up a fair share of sacks—1.6 a game.

Against a freshman quarterback, Bowers, DeAndre McDaniel and company will look to create several turnovers to give the Clemson offense favorable field position.


PREDICTION: Clemson 33 Wake Forest 14 Top Stories