The no. 19 Wake Forest Demon Deacons will look to keep their undefeated record intact this week when they face the Louisville Cardinals in an ACC clash. The action gets underway at 7:30 EST on Saturday, October 12 at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Fans can watch the game on the ACC Network.
The Demon Deacons are currently listed as 6.5-point favorites with an over/under of 65 points. Be sure to check out a full list of this week’s college football odds.
With one more win, Wake Forest can clinch a bowl spot for the fourth consecutive year. That in itself is a great accomplishment for the program. However, the Demon Deacons could have their sites set a little higher than some ordinary bowl game. They’ve started the season 5-0, pushing themselves into the top-25 and giving themselves a chance to position as one of the best teams in the ACC.
That being said, Wake’s schedule has been on the favorable side early in the season. Also, three of their five wins have come by less than a touchdown. On the bright side, the Demon Deacons will play their next three games at home, so they have a good chance to keep things rolling and stay undefeated. Their November schedule turns things up a notch with road trips to Virginia Tech, Clemson, and Syracuse. But if they can hold serve at home, Wake Forest has a chance to reach 8-0 before things start to get tough.
As for Louisville, they’ve already endured plenty of ups and downs in what figures to be a rebuilding season under Scott Satterfield. The Cards lost their ACC opener against Florida State a couple of weeks. But they managed to pull off a surprising win over Boston College last week, getting a late field goal to pull out a wild 41-39 win. Louisville now sits at 3-2, making a bowl game within their reach if they can build off last week’s win.
Of course, the other shoe may be about to drop with the Cardinals set to play three ranked teams in the next three weeks. That will be followed by a November schedule that includes three road games in a four-week span. There are no easy wins the rest of the way for the rebuilding Cardinals, so if they’re going to reach a bowl game this year, they’re going to have to do it the hard way.
Louisville has also come up short against Wake Forest in each of the past two seasons. The Demon Deacons notched a 56-34 win in Louisville last year after holding serve at home 42-32 in 2017. Wake will now look for a third straight win over the Cardinals.
With all due respect to Wake Forest, I’m a little surprised voters have been duped into putting them in the top-25. Their three most impressive wins this year have come against Utah State, North Carolina, and Boston College, all by six points or less. They could be due for a comfortable win against a Louisville team that has some flaws. But I’m not sold on the Demon Deacons just yet. I’ll take the Cardinals and the points because I’ll assume the game is decided by less than a touchdown.
Louisville offers a unique challenge for Wake Forest after playing two quarterbacks last week against Boston College. Malik Cunningham is known more as a runner than a passer, but he was 13 for 18 throwing the ball against BC. Meanwhile, Evan Conley came in to give the Cardinals more of a passing threat and performed well, connecting on 10 of his 16 passes. Together, the pair threw for over 400 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
Perhaps more importantly, the Cardinals seem to have a steady rushing attack behind Javian Hawkins, who ran for 173 yards on 25 carries last week. With Cunningham a threat with his legs as well, the Demon Deacons could have their hands full. The Wake defense hasn’t been particularly stout against the run this season. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that they’ve won five games despite their struggles against the run. With the way the Cards have run the ball this year, the Louisville rushing attack should be able to keep them in the game.
For what it’s worth, the Louisville defense has given up at least 35 points in their three games against power-conference teams. That complicates things a little if the Cardinals want to stay within striking distance late in the game. However, while efficient, the Wake offense is far from a juggernaut. In both of their two games against ACC opponents, quarterback Jamie Newman has thrown for less than 250 yards while combining for just three touchdown passes and two interceptions. When wide receiver Sage Surratt is held in check like he was against Boston College, the Demon Deacons struggle to create explosive plays.
In the end, I think Wake Forest will find a way to win this game. But I think it’ll be another close game. I’m not buying the Demon Deacons as a top-20 team. While I have some concerns with Louisville, the Cardinals have been a little better than expected and I like them to beat the spread this week.