KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
GAME DATE: 9/28/13
SITE: Memorial Stadium, Clemson, S.C.
SERIES: Clemson leads Wake Forest 60-17-1, including winning the last four meetings, and has a 35-7 advantage in the games at Clemson
AP RANKINGS: Clemson, No. 3
KEYS TO THE GAME
The Demon Deacons finally had some things going their way, and that's just in time with the monumental task of a trip to No. 3 Clemson on the horizon.
That leaves no time to relish the road victory at Army. The Demon Deacons didn't allow a touchdown in the 25-11 outcome, though repeating that kind of defensive performance would be almost unheard of against Clemson.
"Clemson does have speed," Wake Forest linebacker Justin Jackson said. "Being fundamentally sound will cut down on some of those big plays."
The defense has been Wake Forest's strength this season, and now the Demon Deacons will find out how good they can be on that side of the ball. Clemson provides a challenge that Wake Forest hasn't faced.
"This is probably the fifth different offense (we'll go against)," Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said, referring to the team's fifth game of the season. "This is a completely new challenge."
While there were signs of progress on offense, it's the defense that has been more consistent for the Demon Deacons.
"That has been our defense, they've kind of bowed their necks when we've been backed up," Grobe said.
But there figures to be little room for error from the Wake Forest side.
"You can't have any illusions," Grobe said. "You have to go down there and play really well. ... You can't play this football team and play well on just one side of the ball. You're not going to get it done."
Wake Forest's rushing attack finally got untracked against Army. That's good for a team that has had trouble moving the ball and wants to put emphasis on a ground attack. Sustaining some drives with a run-oriented approach is also a good way to keep the ball out of Clemson's hands.
Wake Forest figured to have a good chance to win its first four games, perhaps favored in each of those. So a 2-2 record at this stage wasn't what the Demon Deacons had in mind.
They're clearly the underdogs going to Clemson, and that's not a bad thing other than the fact that Wake Forest has lost its last 32 meetings with teams ranked in the top five. The Demon Deacons have a 2-22 record against ranked Clemson teams, with their last victory coming 21 years ago.
"No one has really given us a chance," receiver Michael Campanaro said. "In house, we believe."
PLAYERS TO WATCH
--QB Tajh Boyd has a track record of big outings against Wake Forest, including a school-record 428 yards passing in the Tigers' 42-13 win last season. In fact, Clemson's senior quarterback is a combined 58 of 89 for 808 yards and seven touchdowns in three games against Wake Forest. He also has 67 yards rushing, giving him 875 yards of total offense against the Deacons in his career. He needs 253 yards of total offense to break the Clemson record for total offense in a career against a single opponent.
--WR Sammy Watkins had 127 yards receiving in Clemson's opener against Georgia and 10 receptions against N.C. State, but he's still waiting on that first "breakout game" of 2013. It could come against Wake Forest, which surrendered a career day to Watkins a year ago -- a school-record 202 yards receiving on eight catches. Watkins is likely to shoulder the bulk of the workload with Charone Peake lost for the season to injury and Martavis Bryant serving a "team discipline" that will reduce his playing time against Wake.
--DE Vic Beasley could have a field day against Wake Forest, which has allowed an ACC-high nine sacks this season. Beasley is coming into his own as a junior and ranks second nationally with five sacks this season, including three against N.C. State in the Tigers' last game. "He has really matured," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "He's on his way and he's having a lot of fun. And what he's not getting enough credit for is what he's doing for us in the running game; he can run things down from behind. He's a very good player who's just scraping the surface."
--Senior kicker Chandler Catanzaro became Clemson's career scoring leader in the victory at N.C. State last week. Catanzaro scored eight points on two field goals and two extra points, giving him 330 career points, one more than Aaron Hunt hadbetween 2000-2003. Catanzaro has a chance to break another record against Wake Forest; he has 22 career field goals of 20 yards or more and needs just two to break Chris Gardocki's school record of 23. Catanzaro has made 30 of his last 31 field goal attempts dating to last season.
--WR Michael Campanaro, who has 187 career catches, needs one more reception to match the career total of former NFL receiver Ricky Proehl for second place on Wake Forest's career receiving list. That would leave Campanaro, a senior, trailing only Desmond Clark (216 catches, 1995-98). Campanaro is the active leader in the ACC in receptions with 29 more than Clemson WR Sammy Watkins.
--RB Josh Harris is coming off his most productive outing in his last 11 games by churning out 96 rushing yards on 19 carries at Army. Harris, a senior, has never played at Clemson because he sat out the 2011 game with an injury.
--CB Kevin Johnson is one of the fastest players on the Wake Forest team, and he'll need to use all of his skills while contending with Clemson's receivers. He has two interceptions this season.