The Deacons finished an up-and-down 2003 season with a 5-7 record featuring highlight wins at Boston College and against nationally-ranked NC State, but with three straight losses to end the season. It was the first losing season for Wake Forest under Grobe. Sixteen starters are back from last year's team including an All-ACC selection in each phase of the game.
Clemson begins the 2004 campaign ranked in both the Associated Press (No. 15) and the ESPN/USA Today poll (No. 16). The Tigers are coming off a 9-4 season that was capped by a victory in the Peach Bowl against Tennessee. Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden returns 15 starters from last year's squad.
The Deacons have not begun a season by facing an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent since 1992. It will be the earliest ACC game on the calendar in Wake Forest history.
Saturday's game will mark the 52nd straight year the two teams have met on the gridiron and the 70th meeting overall. The Tigers lead the series 53-15-1. In last year's meeting in Winston-Salem, the Deacons won 45-17 at Groves Stadium.