Wake Forest Accepts Bid To Play In Seattle Bowl

WINSTON-SALEM -- Wake Forest University has accepted an invitation to play in the Seattle Bowl Dec. 30, athletic director Ron Wellman and head coach Jim Grobe announced today.

The Demon Deacons, 6-6 and bowl-eligible for the third time in four years, will take on the Oregon Ducks out of the Pac-10 Conference. Oregon, under the direction of head coach Mike Bellotti, finished the regular season 7-5. The Seattle Bowl will be televised nationally by ESPN and will kick-off at 5:00 p.m. (Eastern).

"I couldn't be happier for our players," Grobe said. "They worked extremely hard to get to this point and I'm glad to see them get rewarded for their efforts. This is a very positive thing for our football program.

"Now, we'll have to get to work because we'll be facing a very talented, well-coached Oregon team. We'll have our work cut out for us, but we look forward to the challenge."

Wake Forest and Oregon have met just once previously -- in the 1992 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. Wake Forest used one of the greatest comebacks in school history, overcoming a 29-10 second-half deficit, to win that game, 39-35. Bill Dooley coached that Deacon team.

The Deacons will appear in a bowl game for the sixth time in school history, and for the second time in four years. Wake Forest played in the 1999 Jeep Aloha Bowl (defeating Arizona State, 23-3), the 1992 Independence Bowl (defeating Oregon, 39-35), the 1979 Tangerine Bowl (losing to LSU, 34-10), the 1949 Dixie Bowl (losing to Baylor, 20-7), and the 1946 Gator Bowl (defeating South Carolina, 26-14).

Wake Forest, 3-2 all-time in bowl games, has a two-game bowl winning streak with both wins coming over Pac-10 schools.

For Grobe, who is in his eighth year as a head coach, this will be his first bowl appearance. In six seasons at Ohio University from 1995-2000, Grobe's Bobcats won six games or more three times but did not receive a bowl invite. In his first season at Wake Forest last year, Grobe led the Deacons to a 6-5 bowl-eligible record, but failed to receive a bowl bid.

Wake Forest went 6-6 in 2002 against a difficult schedule. The Demon Deacons faced seven teams that will participate in bowl games. Wake defeated two bowl-bound teams this season -- at Purdue (24-21) and at Georgia Tech (24-21).

The Deacons are led by senior defensive end Calvin Pace, a first team All-American (AFCA) and a first team All-ACC selection. Pace did not play in the regular season finale because of a stress fracture in his leg, but it is possible that he could return to the field in time to play in the Seattle Bowl. Pace, Wake's all-time leader in tackles for loss, is one sack shy of tying Michael McCrary for the school career sack record.

Wake Forest leads the ACC in rushing offense (243.7) and turnover margin (+17). Senior Fabian Davis leads the ACC in all-purpose yardage (140.4 yards per game). Senior fullback Ovie Mughelli ranked third in the ACC in rushing touchdowns (11). Senior offensive guard Blake Henry, a first team All-ACC selection, helped the offensive line allow a league-low nine sacks in 2002.

Oregon began 2002 by racing to a 6-0 start before losing five of its final six games. Among the Ducks' victories were wins over bowl-bound Fresno State and UCLA. Tailback Onterrio Smith, Keenan Howry and place-kicker Jared Siegel were all named first-team All-Pac 10.

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