The Wake Forest Demon Deacons will try to bounce back from their first loss of the season this week when they host the Florida State Seminoles. The game will kick off at 7:30 EST on Saturday, October 19 at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Fans can catch all of the action on the ACC Network.
Oddsmakers list Wake Forest as 2-point favorites at home with an over/under of 69 points. Click here to check out all of this week’s college football odds.
The Demon Deacons were one of the most surprising teams in the country to start the season 5-0, but they got their first blemish last week with a 62-59 loss to Louisville. Wake out-gained Louisville by over 150 yards despite losing quarterback Jamie Newman to a shoulder injury during the game. But the Demon Deacons were playing from behind all game and couldn’t quite catch up to the Cardinals in a wild shootout.
The good news is that Wake Forest is still just one win away from solidifying a bowl spot and six games to make that happen. With back-to-back home games coming up against Florida State and NC State, the Demon Deacons would like to take care of business as soon as possible and not wait until November when they play three of their last four games on the road.
Meanwhile, Florida State saw their two-game winning streak come to a sudden stop when they visited Clemson last week. The Seminoles never had a chance in the game, falling behind 42-0 before getting their first points of the game. On the bright side, FSU is a respectable 3-3 midway through the season despite issues early in the season.
Of course, winning three more games is far from a guarantee. If the Seminoles can get right back on track and win this week, their late-season schedule won’t seem so daunting. The last thing Florida State wants right now is to lose back-to-back games and start to lose confidence heading into the home stretch.
Fortunately for Florida State, they should be confident playing Wake Forest. Despite the program taking a few steps back in recent years, the Seminoles have won seven straight games against the Demon Deacons. Even in a down season last year, FSU had a convincing 38-17 win over Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons haven’t won a game in this series since 2011, so it’ll be a long time coming if they can hold serve at home Saturday night.
Wake Forest had some of their weaknesses exposed last week and I don’t see them having a quick fix for those issues. I never believed that the Demon Deacons were as good as the no. 19 ranking they had when they were 5-0. I think they’ll continue to come back down to earth this week. I’ll side with history and lean toward Florida State to win on the road and extend their winning streak against the Demon Deacons.
The biggest concern Wake Forest has at the moment is their run defense. This was a problem for the Demon Deacons last year and it has continued to be this year. Even in wins over Boston College and North Carolina, they had trouble containing the running game. That figures to be a problem again when facing FSU running back Cam Akers. While Clemson was able to keep him contained last week, few teams are capable of stopping Akers over 60 minutes. Given Wake’s issues stopping the run, I think Akers is in for a big game.
If Akers can jumpstart FSU’s rushing attack, it should benefit both of Florida State’s quarterbacks, James Blackman and Alex Hornibrook. Last week’s loss to Clemson notwithstanding, both quarterbacks have been effective despite continued problems with the FSU offensive line. If the Demon Deacons have to dedicate extra resources to slowing down Akers, it would buy both FSU quarterbacks a little extra time in the pocket to push the ball down the field.
On the other side of the ball, I’m not that worried about Wake’s offense, even if Newman can’t play because of the shoulder injury. Backup Sam Hartman was the starter for most of last season and led the Demon Deacons on three touchdown drives to close out last week’s game against Louisville. However, the Florida State defense might be the best that Wake Forest has faced this year. The Seminoles had some issues early in the season, but their defense started to come around in wins over Louisville and NC State, especially against the run. If they can make Wake Forest a little one-dimensional, they’ll be in good shape, regardless of who plays quarterback.
To be honest, this game could be as wild as Wake’s game against Louisville last week. Both teams have vulnerabilities on defense that could be exposed. But I think the Seminoles have a slight edge in overall talent and athleticism, which was the case last year when they beat Wake Forest by a wide margin. That’s enough for me to lean toward Florida State in a game that could easily go either way.