LOCATION: Groves Stadium, Winston-Salem, N.C. (31,500)
RADIO: 104.9 WCCP FM
SPREAD: Clemson by 6.
COACHES: Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden is 64-35 overall and 46-31 in his seventh season at Clemson. Clemson has a 5-1 record against Wake Forest under Tommy Bowden, but four of the five Clemson wins have been close. The Tigers won 12-3 in 1999, 21-14 in 2001, 31-23 in 2002 and 37-30 in double overtime in 2004. Clemson's only blowout against Wake Forest took place in 2000 when Clemson won by a 55-9 score. Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe is 23-28 (56-61-1 overall) in his fifth season with the Deacons.
SERIES: Clemson owns 54 wins over Wake Forest in history, its second highest victory total over any opponent. Clemson has 62 wins over South Carolina. Forty-three of those wins against Wake Forest have taken place since the ACC was formed in 1953. Clemson leads the series 54-15-1 overall, including a 31-7 record in games played at Clemson and a 27-7 mark in games played in Death Valley.
WAKE FOREST KEY PLAYER: QB Cory Randolph. Wake head coach Jim Grobe has said that former back up signal caller Cory Randolph will see significant action this weekend against Clemson. He may even start. The senior quarterback gives Wake Forest a dual threat in the backfield as opposed to sophomore Ben Mauk, who is more of a pure pocket passer. Randolph had previously played as a wide receiver this year after Mauk took over the starting quarterback position.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It seems like anytime you play an offense that involves some option, which they do, it makes you very disciplined from an assignment standpoint. Most of the time you do a stunt or a twist and you go rush the quarterback; and this is one where a lot of times there's a dive involved, a keep by the quarterback, or a pitch – it's three-dimensional from an assignment standpoint. That neutralizes speed a little bit, makes you think and slow down. That seems to be the biggest problem is that a team like Wake that runs a little bit of unusual offense is going to make you play assignment defense, which a lot of teams don't challenge you as much." -- Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden on facing Wake's misdirection offense.
FORECAST: Temperatures are expected to be in the upper 70's Saturday at Groves Stadium under mostly sunny skies. Winds will be out of the northeast at 6 mph.
INJURY REPORT: Clemson: WR Rendrick Taylor (wrist) out, OG Chris McDuffie (calf) out, TE Cole Downer (spleen) out. Wake Forest: OG Brodie Overstreet (eye) out, OT Louis Frazier (knee) out, SS Aaron Mason (concussion) probable.
KEY STAT: Wake Forest is the only school in the country to have two running backs averaging over 100 yards a game on the ground. Combined, senior Chris Barclay (118.7) and sophomore Micah Andrews (120) average a mind-boggling 238 yards a game.
* Spence Makes No Apologies
* Grobe Looking for Spark
* Roy's Picks: Week No. 5
* Parking Alert for Saturday
* Wednesday Clemson Football Notebook
* Deacs Struggling, but Still Dangerous
* Defense Must Stay Disciplined
* Clemson - Wake Depth Chart
* Is the Sky Falling?
* Tuesday Player Audio
* What We are Hearing...
* Breakout Game Needed
* Bowden's Tuesday Press Conference
* Monday Clemson Football Notebook
* Game Notes
WHAT TO WATCH: When Clemson has the Ball - The Tigers finished 0-for-11 on third down last week against Boston College. Considering the game went into overtime, that statistic is somewhat amazing. At the same time, that number must improve significantly this week against Wake Forest. The Tigers must also be more effective in the passing game, taking advantage of downfield opportunities when they are present. Perhaps most importantly - dropped passes must be minimized. Two key dropped passes in each of the last two games have proven costly in overtime losses. Running backs James Davis and Reggie Merriweather continue to form a strong one-two punch and the running lanes could be there for the taking this week, considering Wake often uses an odd front.
When Wake Forest has the Ball - Wake Forest is difficult to defend because it uses a misdirection option attack that requires opposing defenses to play assignment football. It doesn't hurt that running backs Chris Barclay and Micah Andrews are also extremely talented, as the two form the second most productive backfield in the nation. To have success Saturday, the Tigers must stay disciplined and not try to do more than what each player is assigned to do. "Every defense you scheme has to have somebody assigned to the dive, the quarterback, and the pitch," said Tommy Bowden. "You have to think about: do I have the dive? Do I have the quarterback? You have to change it up. Defensive ends sometimes will pinch and take the dive; sometimes he'll step up-field and take the quarterback and the linebacker will take the dive. So that increases the thinking process because you can't be predictable." The Deacs can also surprise you in the passing game. Last year, the Tigers appeared to be well on their way to an easy win with an early 17-3 lead, before Ben Mauk connected with WR Jason Anderson on an 85-yard touchdown pass. The Tigers would go on to win the game, but only after two overtimes, 37-30.
Special Teams - Jad Dean continues to be Mr. Reliable, missing just one field goal in 12 attempts this season. "He's just kicking phenomenally," Bowden said. "But he's not only making field goals, he's making field goals to put games in overtime and making field goals to win games in regulation." Field goals and extra points obviously aren't a problem, but the punt team for the Tigers has been. Bowden hinted this week that another player could get the opportunity to start ahead of Cole Chason, but Chason won a "punt off" against Stephen Furr and walk-on James Manners. The Deacs' Ryan Plackemeier is first in the ACC and eighth in the country in net punting at over 40 yards per punt. In addition, only 10 of his 25 punts have been returned this year.
Intangibles - The Tigers are coming four emotional games, including two close wins and two close losses. At the same time, each of the last four games played the last four years against Wake Forest have all been nip and tuck, with the exception of one - a Wake Forest blow out two years ago at Groves Stadium. Do the Tigers have the emotional energy to get the job done in an environment that creates little excitement, against a team that traditionally gives them problems? Meanwhile, the Demon Deacons have had seemingly everything go wrong in their first four games. From turnovers to protection break downs to dropped balls, Wake Forest has been its own worst enemy in 2005. If the Deacs can somehow eliminate their own mistakes, can they once again keep this game against Clemson competitive for four quarters?
DON'T FORGET! The Tiger Pre-Game show will be broadcasting Saturday morning from 9:30 AM to 12:30 PM, with the last two hours coming to you live from Groves Stadium. Tune in to 104.9 WCCP FM in upstate South Carolina or to 95.9 FM in Winston-Salem, N.C. for all the pre-game coverage you can handle. Or tune in world wide on wccpfm.com.
RB Chris Barclay
QB Cory Randolph
WR Kevin Marion