For the first time in recent memory, Clemson is not head and shoulders above the rest of the ACC. On Saturday, Wake Forest and NC State battle to step into the void and take a big step toward winning the ACC Atlantic Division, which will be the first time in seven years that someone other than Clemson has advanced. Let’s see the NCAAF odds.
NC State Wolfpack vs. Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Saturday, November 13, 2021- 7:30 PM EST at Truist Field
For the first time since 2014, the ACC Championship Game will have a new look. Clemson has already lost twice this season, meaning that the Tigers, who have won the last five Atlantic Division crowns and advanced to the conference title game the last six years, will be sitting out the game in December.
That leaves a void in the Atlantic Division, and two teams are ready to step into it. NC State hasn’t won a league title in football since 1979. Wake Forest has won one in the last half-century. The two teams will play in Winston-Salem on Saturday night with the winner taking a big step toward breaking one of those droughts.
Wolfpack Looking for Respect
Other than Louisville and Syracuse, who both joined the conference in the last decade, every other ACC school has advanced to at least one conference title game since 2006—except the Wolfpack. Even Notre Dame, who joined the conference for one season, has played in the game.
NC State believes this might be the year to change all that. The Pack is 7-2, 4-1 in the conference, and a game behind Wake Forest. A win Saturday will tie both teams atop the Atlantic and give State the tiebreaker edge with two games to play. State has won two straight, over Louisville and at Florida State. The Wolfpack beat then No. 9 Clemson back in September. It’s the first time since 2002 that State has beaten both the Seminoles and Tigers in the same football season.
Coach Dave Doeren has complained that the Wolfpack has been overlooked nationally, but State moved to No. 16 in the most recent set of CFP rankings, so the “no respect” card could be tough to play. “It’s going to be a great game and a great challenge,” Doeren said of the Wake game. “Since we lost that game to Miami, we’ve been approaching every game as a must-win game. We’ve been in a playoff mode.
We have to win this game, the next game, and the next game to be in Charlotte (site of the ACC title game).” State has won in Winston-Salem just once since 2001.
Wake Forest jumped out to an 8-0 start to the year, 5-0 in the ACC, before losing a non-conference game to UNC last week. The Demon Deacons are riding a historically great offensive machine, led by quarterback Sam Hartman. The Demon Deacons have scored at least 35 points in every game this season and are on a three-week run where they’ve put up 70, 45, and 55. Unfortunately for Wake, the defense has given up more than 50 in two of the last three games.
Wake will likely need to win a shootout to get past the Wolfpack. It has the talent to do it. Hartman is averaging 419 passing yards in the last three games and has put up 18 touchdown passes over that span. Jaquarii Roberson and A.T. Perry are both ranked in the top five in the conference in receiving. Wake Forest won the ACC in 2006, its only league title since 1970. The Deacs have their sights set on repeating that feat 15 years later.
“This is a really big game, certainly as big of a game as I can remember coaching in my time here,” coach Dave Clawson said. “I’ve been here eight years and we’ve never been in this position in November. It’s hard to get to this point. We’re very excited for the opportunity we have.”
State has lost two starting linebackers and will be hard-pressed to contain a Wake offense that no one else has come close to stopping. The question is whether the Wolfpack offense can match the Deacs score for score. They’ll try to run the ball and control the clock, but Wake doesn’t need much time to find the end zone. For your NCAAF picks, look for Wake to pull away in this matchup.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.