Let me start this off by saying I have nothing but respect for Wake Forest. Like Boston College they once had a respectful football team, and like Boston College they even made it to an ACC title game. They both had top five NFL draft picks in back to back years in 2008 & 2009. BC and Wake Forest always play each other hard, and during the Riley Skinner years there were some great games including the game in 2008 where Mark Herzlich won the game for BC basically by himself.
Going into this weekend we have two teams that seem to be at the crossroads of their seasons. On the one hand you have Wake Forest, who has 2 wins in September, one less than they had all of the 2010 season. They seem to be improving on all aspects of their game, averaging nearly 300 yards a game passing, and the 18th ranked defense in the country. On the other you have Boston College, mired in three games of complete ineptitude, praying that the return of Montel Harris will signify the turnaround of an apparently lost season.
Everyone in the media is already coming out in support of the Wake Forest team this season. Heather Dinich wrote this morning that if BC beats them it would be an upset. ESPN's experts are predicting a bowl bid for the Demon Deacons, and even Vegas is keeping odds close for the game. Looking at the aforementioned stats, you can see why people would jump on the Demon Deacon bandwagon.
I am not buying Wake Forest. Well at least not yet. They have beaten a completely inept NC State (who BC should thrash when they come to Alumni in November), and Gardner Webb, who before this year I didn't realize even had a football team. But what about the Demon Deacons one loss? That came to Syracuse, who barely beat Toledo last weekend, and should have lost this game if the refs didn't completely blow the game. Is beating a bottom rung ACC team and an FCS school justification for all this praise and an ACC win on the road? Hardly.
But how will the Demon Deacons stack up against a team like Boston College? If BC can establish a solid mix of pass and rush they should be able to control this game. WF defense is susceptible to both the rush (Syracuse ran for 130 yards, 2 TD's) and the pass (NC State threw for over 300 yards). It will be interesting to see what kind of gameplan Spaz puts together to try to exploit the holes in the Wake Forest defense--insert joke about Spaz's game management here--.
On offense, Tanner Price could prove to be a big problem for BC. Against both NC State and Syracuse he threw for nearly 300 yards, and with the Eagles' porous D, he could have a huge day. But with Kaleb Ramsey expected to play, and the return of a now healthy Donnie Fletcher, the Eagles pass defense should be markedly improved over the poor exhibitions we saw against Northwestern, UCF and Duke. Fletcher is going to have the very important job of sticking to wide receiver Chris Givens, who has racked up an impressive start to the season (20 catches, 366 yards 3 TD's. )
Boston College should be able to win this game, if they execute a good game plan, control the game clock and keep Tanner Price off the field. But with Frank Spaziani and the way this team has played, that is a huge if, as they have shown little to inspire confidence this season. But if they can build upon their successes they showed last weekend against UMASS, BC should be fine.
If BC wins this game will it be an upset as Dinich says? No, they are playing at home against a team that has won one FBS game this season. What BC team will actually show up to this game? That is a whole other question.