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College Football Predictions: No. 31 Wake Forest Demon Deacons

The 2021 Wake Forest team left the 2022 squad with mighty big shoes to fill. The Demon Deacons have been good for anywhere from six to eight regular-season wins over the last several years. It all came together for the Demon Deacons during an 11-3 season and a run to the ACC’s Atlantic Division title.

Wake Forest allowed 151 points in the three losses. Had a three-game run with a 37-34 win against Louisville, a 40-37 victory in overtime against Syracuse, and a wild 70-56 victory against Army so Wake Forest didn’t lack for excitement in 2021.

College football predictions: No. 31 Wake Forest Demon Deacons
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Quarterback Sam Hartman and receiver A.T. Perry both return to torment ACC secondaries although there are some holes to fill on defense.

Expectations are a little bit lower for the Demon Deacons in 2022. The college football lines have Wake Forest (+2000) tied for fifth in the odds to win the ACC title. Clemson is the overwhelming favorite to reclaim the ACC Atlantic Division title with Wake Forest picked third.

Wake Forest (+20000) is tied for 32nd in the college football odds. to win the national championship according to the sportsbook.

Wake Forest Demon Deacons

  • 2021 record: 11-3
  • 2021 conference record: 7-1
  • Head coach: Dave Clawson
  • Odds to win conference title: +1600

Wake Forest had the fourth-highest scoring team in the country en route to winning a division title and advancing to the ACC title game. With prolific quarterback Sam Hartman back for his fifth season at the helm of the offense and electrifying receiver A.T. Perry also coming back, there could be more offensive showcases in 2022.

Hartman threw for 4,228 yards with 39 touchdowns and he also ran for 11 scores. If there is criticism of Hartman it is his accuracy. He completed 49% of his passes in a loss to North Carolina and 45.7% in the ACC title game loss to Pittsburgh. There is no questioning his ability to deliver big plays.

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Many of his top receivers return including Perry (71 catches, 1,293 yards, 15 touchdowns), Taylor Morin (43 catches, 621 yards), Ke’Shawn Williams, and tight end Blake Whitehart. Morin is also a key contributor returning kickoffs and punts. Jaquarii Roberson is now with the  Dallas Cowboys leaving Hartman without one of his two 1,000-yard receivers from a season ago.

Although leading rusher Christian Beal-Smith was one of two running backs to transfer, Justice Ellison, Christian Turner, and Quinton Cooley are all coming back. Ellison and Turner split time with Beal-Smith so the running game shouldn’t suffer too much.

Versatile lineman Zach Tom is off to the NFL but Wake Forest returns the rest of the starting offensive line – DeVonte Gordon, Michael Jurgens, Sean McGinn, and Loic Ngassam Nya.

Linebacker Ryan Smenda (83 tackles) and defensive lineman Rondell Bothroyd (63 tackles, 16½ tackles for loss, eight sacks), Chase Jones, Nick Andersen, Malik Mustapha return to lead the defense. Leading tackler Luke Masterson, sack leader Luiji Vilain and No. 3 tackler Traveon Redd are among the key losses on that side of the ball.

Kicker Nick Sciba is now in camp with the Pittsburgh Steelers after going 23 of 25 on field goals in 2021. Punter Ivan Mora, who also handled the kickoffs, does return.

Nine freshmen had at least 10 tackles last season so their continued growth should help the defense improve.

The Demon Deacons did add Georgia Southern’s second-leading tackler Eldrick Robinson (75 tackles, two interceptions as a freshman). Former Vanderbilt safety Brendon Harris (127 tackles over the last three seasons) Richmond defensive lineman Kobie Turner is another key addition.

2022 Outlook

It shouldn’t take long to see where Wake Forest stands in the ACC race with the conference opener coming against preseason conference favorite Clemson. Wake Forest probably could have used tougher non-conference games heading into the showdown with Clemson. Back-to-back games against North Carolina State and North Carolina won’t be easy to navigate.

Something that those who bet online might want to consider, Wake Forest only covered back-to-back games twice during the 2021 season. The Demon Deacons’ last three games all finished under the total.

Safety Zion Keith (37 tackles) and linebacker DJ Taylor (35 tackles) were the most productive of the six defensive players who transferred.

The expected regular-season win total is at 8½  for Wake Forest with the odds at -135 for the Demon Deacons going under according to the NAAC football odds.

Clawson has done a tremendous job making Wake Forest a factor in the ACC. Now comes the test of building off an impressive 2021 season.

2022 Schedule

  • Sept. 1 vs VMI
  • Sept. 10 at Vanderbilt
  • Sept. 17 vs Liberty
  • Sept. 24 vs Clemson
  • Oct. 1 at Florida State
  • Oct. 8 vs Army
  • Oct. 22 vs Boston College
  • Oct. 29 at Louisville
  • Nov. 5 at North Carolina State
  • Nov. 12 vs North Carolina
  • Nov. 19 vs Syracuse
  • Nov. 26 at Duke

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