CLEMSON TIGERS (6-1)
at WAKE FOREST DEMON DEACONS (4-3)
Kickoff: Thursday, 7:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Clemson -12, Total: 59.5
No. 12 Clemson looks for its fourth straight SU victory (and fifth straight ATS win) when it visits Wake Forest on Thursday night.
Clemson has won 10 of the past 13 meetings (6-6-1 ATS), scoring 99 points during three straight wins over Wake Forest. Tigers QB Tajh Boyd, who threw for 347 yards, 2 TD and 2 INT in last year’s 31-28 comeback win versus Wake, has led his team to 130 points during a three-game win streak. Boyd has a stinger injury, but is expected to start. The Demon Deacons have won three of four ATS, winning outright at Virginia last week, 16-10, despite just 213 total yards. They will still not have leading WR Michael Campanaro, who had targeted this date for a return from a broken hand.
Can Clemson cover this big spread on the road? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every key college football game throughout the 2012 season.
Since scoring only 26 points in the season opener, Clemson has put up 37+ points in each of its past six games. Boyd (308 total YPG, 19 total TD) is the main reason his team now ranks 15th in FBS in scoring (40.9 PPG) and 16th in total offense (493 YPG). It also helps to have WR DeAndre Hopkins at his disposal. The junior ranks second in the nation with 121 receiving YPG, scoring nine touchdowns in his six games versus FBS competition. Sophomore WR Sammy Watkins has not scored a receiving touchdown this year, but he does have 14 receptions in the past two weeks. Clemson had its lowest rushing output of the year last week against Virginia Tech, rushing for 135 yards on 45 carries (3.0 YPC). Despite the low total, senior RB Andre Ellington rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown, giving him 310 rushing yards over his past three games. Although he rushed for 98 yards and 2 TD against Wake last year, Ellington could have a tougher time chewing up yards on Thursday considering the Deacons have allowed just 75 rushing YPG on 2.0 yards per carry over the past three weeks. Clemson will also have to be wary of Wake's opportunistic defense that has forced 13 turnovers this season including three in each of the past two contests.
Wake Forest's offense is eager to erase last week's performance, when its 213 total yards marked the lowest amount of yards in a victory since 1966. QB Tanner Price has really struggled with his accuracy all season, completing just 50.7% of his passes for 1,327 yards (6.4 YPA), 7 TD and 4 INT. In the past two games, he has connected on just 20-of-57 throws (35%). However, he was solid versus the Tigers last year, completing 24-of-37 throws for 172 yards, 1 TD and 0 INT. Wake's best hope to keep this game close will be to hand the ball to junior RB Josh Harris who leads the team with 432 rushing yards and 4 TD. His rushing yards have dropped in each of the past three weeks though, as he gained just 55 yards on 14 carries in the last game. However, Clemson has allowed 202 rushing YPG this year (102nd in FBS), including 538 yards on the ground in the past two games. Wake has not committed a turnover in three of its past five games, but Clemson has forced multiple miscues in six of seven contests this season.