We'll start today by discussing what the "real experts" out in Vegas think about this week's contest with Wake. I don't need to tell you that Clemson really needs this game to earn an Atlantic Division championship and set the stage for Clemson's first 10 win season in 20 years. Consequently, this team has a lot to play for and we should get to see whether this Clemson football team can finish the 2011 season strong.
As you can see below via Vegas Insider, the line opened with Clemson a 19.5 point favorite and has moved down to a 16 to 16.5 since the beginning of the week. Three points is essentially the advantage Vegas typically gives for playing at home, if you are wondering.
I understand this, as 19.5 points is a lot of points to cover, period. Further, you have to believe that the general public is still a little cautious about getting behind our Tigers, particularly given Clemson's reputation for not being able to finish off seasons. Fair or not, Clemson will maintain that stigma until we go out and prove it different...which will hopefully be this season.
So, Clemson is essentially a two touchdown and a field goal favorite going in. The O/U appears below to be 60.5, leading everyone to believe that the target score is somewhere around Clemson 38, WF 22. That seems fairly ambitious but realistic given Wake has given up 19 or more points in each of their ACC games this year. Wake has been very productive through the air, featuring a 2000+ yard passer and a receiver who has nearly 1000 yards so far this year. Running back Josh Harris may finally rebound from an injury that has hampered him for most of the season. Place all of these items together, and those 22 points seem easily attainable. Add to this that Wake has not scored less than 17 points in a game this year--and those were against Va Tech and Notre Dame. With Clemson's defense looking less than impressive at times this year, this does seem feasible.
Below are items from Grey Matter Stats, including their projections on the game. We've also included information on previous games between the schools.
The above projected score is very similar to the Vegas spread yet the total points favor the under. I am not sure what sort of system Grey Matter uses for its projected model, but I sure hope either the Vegas folks or the projections are correct. I will admit that I was a little surprised that the football game did get relegated to ESPNU, simply because it will probably determine the division winner.
I listened to a little of the Sweatshirt's presser today and he seems calm and collected moving forward. I hope he is correct about the attitude of the team being positive coming off of a loss like the one endured in Atlanta. One thing that was important was realizing that the bye will either cause the team to be a little rusty or, hopefully, be the rejuvenating week these guys need to re-energize and, for a couple folks, to get healthy before the final leg of the season.
Looking way, way forward...if Clemson can win the division and Virginia Tech is able to run the table, Clemson will get a shot at the belt again. Dabo going for two title runs in a single year would be absolutely nuts. If we could carry that bad boy into the offseason, we need Swinney to sport a robe along with the belt on his IPTAY tour. Again, that is way , way off. The team and coaches need to focus on Wake. We keep looking into each opponent as they come along but always want to look into items to keep it real in the once fall football is over.