"We're playing for a championship," linebacker Scott Betros said. "We've realized this whole time we have a chance for this championship."
Wake Forest has lost three of its last four games, winning only a one-point decision at Duke during that stretch.
But it comes to Clemson with an opportunity to pull even in the Atlantic Division. A win against the Tigers and at home the following week against Maryland would send Wake Forest to the ACC championship game for the second time in five years.
"We've won enough games that we can play big games in November and that's what we want," tight end and South Carolina native Cameron Ford said.
But it won't be easy.
The Demon Deacons have been outscored 205-73 in their five consecutive losses at Clemson's Memorial Stadium, including a 38-3 loss two years ago.
"We're really concerned about the talent that Clemson's got, and knowing we're going to face a well-coached football team in their place," head coach Jim Grobe said. "The championship implications take a back-seat to how good a football team we're facing.
"The thing that keeps your feet on the ground is how talented Clemson is."
In addition, it must be noted Clemson is coming an off-week, which has allowed injured players RB Andre Ellington and TE Dwayne Allen time to heal.
THURSDAY NOTES: OG Colin Summers went on a recruiting visit there. "It was unreal. The size of the stadium, the fans, the tradition there," he said. * Wake Forest has been outscored by a combined score of 31-7 in the third quarters of the last three games. "It has taken us a while to get warmed up again," LB Scott Betros said.
Clemson will have to contain the explosive Chris Givens Saturday afternoon in Death Valley. (Getty Images)
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: There have been fewer big plays the past couple of weeks, and without sustaining drives it has meant numerous empty possessions. The Demon Deacons will have a different sort of look in terms of RB Orville Reynolds, whose potential redshirt season was doused when he played as a true freshman against Notre Dame.
Wake Forest is committed to give him some regular playing time, hoping his speed provides another dimension. Reynolds probably will alternate series with RB Brandon Pendergrass as RB Josh Harris tries to recover from a hamstring injury.
The offense continues to go stale in the second half as teams seem to adjust to the Demon Deacons' schemes. There also seems to be an emphasis on taking away the downfield options for receivers. WR Chris Givens has had to work through traffic on underneath routes for a good chunk of his yardage the past couple of games.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: This unit started to make more big plays, but sometimes it takes a while for Wake to figure things out. They've put a lot of pressure on the secondary in some recent games, and that group will be tested by Clemson's speed and big-yardage capabilities. LB Mike Olson and LB Justin Jackson have been pushing for more playing time as they're listed as the backups in the middle. The Demon Deacons might try to use more players along the front early in the game to keep players fresh.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: TE Cameron Ford -- He'll make his final appearance at Clemson, which is located about a 20-minute drive from his hometown. He'll be anxious for a better result than the 38-3 whipping the Demon Deacons took there years ago.
LB Justin Jackson -- He's in the rotation at middle linebacker and he's becoming more and more active. The redshirt sophomore is coming off a game in which he made a career-high eight tackles against Notre Dame.
WR Chris Givens -- He has been held to a total of 99 receiving yards the past two game, but he 68 receiving yards away from tying Ricky Proehl's single-season school record.
ROSTER REPORT: OG Colin Summers, a redshirt freshman, has played in the past two games after appearing in only one of the team's first seven games.
*FB Tommy Bohanon racked up his first career rushing touchdown with a 3-yard run Oct. 29 at North Carolina. The junior's two previous touchdowns came on pass plays. He didn't have a carry or a reception against Notre Dame in the most-recent game.
* K Jimmy Newman held a school-record mark with 14 consecutive successful field goals until he missed his final attempt against Notre Dame. He held the previous record at 12 before his most-recent streak, so he owns the two longest such strings in the history of the program.