Dan Scott Preview & Prediction

CLEMSON - Prediction time again. And one I've been wrestling with since last week. It's Clemson at Wake Forest in a game the Tigers desperately need to get things headed back in the right direction.

But will they get it? Here's how I see it...

CLEMSON OFFENSE VS. WAKE FOREST DEFENSE
Another game, another starting offensive line for Clemson. This time Cory Lambert moves inside and Chris Hairston returns to the lineup at left tackle, a move Tommy Bowden hopes will aid in protecting quarterback Cullen Harper. But the Deacs have NFL-caliber talent at both linebacker and corner, and have been very good on defense all season long. If the Tigers can establish the run early, it will take pressure off the pass protection. But can they? I'm not so sure.

ADVANTAGE - Wake Forest

WAKE FOREST OFFENSE VS. CLEMSON DEFENSE
For the first time in Jim Grobe's tenure Wake is throwing more than it's running. That puts a great deal more on the shoulders of quarterback Riley Skinner, and if he doesn't play well - see last week vs. Navy - the Deacs haven't come up with someone else to carry the load. They also have offensive line issues, which is uncommon for a Grobe-coached team. As long as Clemson doesn't allow Wake's dormant running game to come to life, the defense should have a good night.

ADVANTAGE - CLEMSON

SPECIAL TEAMS
Normally Wake Forest would win this battle on the strength of punter/kicker Sam Swank. But Swank injured his right quadriceps earlier this week and may not play. He will be a game-time decision. Meanwhile, Clemson kicker Mark Buchholz remains the only kicker in the league still perfect on every attempt.

ADVANTAGE - Clemson

COACHING/INTANGIBLES
Bad things seem to happen to Clemson in Winston-Salem, though the last trip in it was Gaines Adams who single-handedly turned the tables in the Tigers' favor. Still, when it comes to this category, I have to go with Grobe and Co.

ADVANTAGE - Wake Forest

BOTTOM LINE
Both teams are coming off embarrassing losses. Both will be stoked to the gills at kickoff. But when the dust settles, I'm afraid the prospect of playing on the road on Thursday night may be too much to overcome.

THE PICK: Wake Forest 21, Clemson 17

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