This is part six of a 12 piece series examining all 12 ACC school’s 2012 schedule and making predictions based on returning players and incoming talent. Today we focus on our last Atlantic Division team Wake Forest.
The Demon Deacons and head coach Jim Grobe had a good season in 2011. At least in conference play, Wake was able to finish second in the Atlantic Division behind Clemson with a conference record of 5-3. They ended the regular season with a record of 6-6 and lost the Music City Bowl to Mississippi State. Wake Forest was able to do this without being particularly great at any phase of the game. The Demon Deacons were 68th in the country in points scored, 65th in points allowed, 99th in rushing yards and 39th passing yards. The real star of the team last season was quarterback Tanner Price who threw for 2,803 yards and 20 touchdowns. If Wake is going to have a good 2012 it will be on Price’s shoulders.
Wake Forest will start the season with a game against FCS school Liberty. This will be the Demon Deacons only tune up game before the start of conference play (predicted Wake record 1-0). Wake will then be visited by North Carolina. The Tar Heels might be more talented than the Deacons but UNC doesn’t have much to play for in 2012 because they are serving a bowl ban this season. That along with the fact that this game is in Winston-Salem sways the game in Wake Forest’s favor (Wake record 2-0).
Last season’s biggest upset for Wake Forest came at home against Florida State. The two will meet again in week 3 in 2012. FSU is just more talented than the Deacons. That along with the game being at Doak-Campbell Stadium and the Seminoles having all the motivation mean this game won’t be all that close (Wake record 2-1).
The Demon Deacons then leave conference play with a home game against Army. The Black Knights are no longer a pushover, but if you can slow down the triple option then they can be beat. Jim Grobe will come up with a good game plan and Wake will pull away late to win this one (Wake record 3-1). Duke will then travel to take on Wake Forest in week 5. Duke is slowly rebuilding, but they aren’t good enough to beat the Deacons (Wake record 4-1).
Wake then travels to play Maryland in week 6. Last year the Demon Deacons beat the Terrapins by a score of 31-10. Maryland won’t be good this season, but they should be a little better and this game is in College Park. This game could be a push, but as of now I give Maryland the advantage (Wake record 4-2). The Deacons then travel to Charlottesville to play the Virginia Cavaliers. The Cavaliers were overachievers last season, but that was due to a large group of seniors. Those players are now gone, leaving UVa without a lot of its firepower. This will be a close game but Wake Forest will pull it out late (Wake record 5-2).
This starts a rough stretch of games for Wake Forest. They host Clemson for a Thursday night game. The Tigers simply have too much firepower for the Demon Deacons. Clemson will win this game (Wake record 5-2). Boston College will visit Wake the next week. Boston College, like Maryland, has more talent than Wake even though they aren’t the better team. The Eagles will be able to keep this game close throughout and pull out the upset (Wake record 5-4).
Wake Forest will then travel to Raleigh to take on North Carolina State. Wake faces the same issues in this game that they do against FSU and Clemson, they are simply outgunned by the Wolf Pack. NC State will have home field advantage and the game might not even be close (Wake record 5-5). The Demon Deacons then head to South Bend to take on Notre Dame. This was a close game last season with Notre Dame winning 24-17. It will be close again this year but with the same result (Wake record 5-6).
The Deacon’s final game of the season comes against the Vanderbilt Commodores. Last season’s game between these two was a blowout in Vanderbilt’s favor. It will be closer this season, but Wake Forest simply can’t keep up with Vanderbilt for 60 minutes (Wake record 5-7).
Wake Forest will end the season with a 5-7 record (3-5 in ACC play).It is hard to believe that a team can win five of its first seven games, but fail to get one more win the rest of the season. Future ACC school Syracuse did it last year.