A look at this week’s game that likely will have the greatest impact on the road to the College Football Playoff semifinal game Dec. 31 in the Vrbo Fiesta Bowl.
No. 5 Clemson (3-0) at No. 21 Wake Forest (3-0)
Time/TV: 9 am Saturday/ABC
Line: Clemson -8½
ACC in spotlight: After three weeks, there are 33 unbeaten teams left in major college football and eight of them are playing against each other Saturday including this early ACC test. Clemson is starting a two-week stretch that could allow it to take control of the league’s Atlantic Division race; the Tigers play No. 12 North Carolina State next week. Wake Forest is the defending division champion, but the Demon Deacons have lost 13 straight to Clemson.
Reality check: Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson, who is 0-8 in the series, has called Clemson the measuring stick in the conference. The Demon Deacons needed to go to the final minute to hold off Liberty 37-36 last weekend at home. “I told these guys Sunday: We won the game,” Clawson said. “We’re not going to walk around here with our heads down all depressed after we win. Let’s fix the mistakes, know what we didn’t do well – but we won.” … The Tigers’ only Power Five opponent so far is a hurting Georgia Tech team. Generally, signs are positive QB DJ Uiagalelei and the offense are better than last year, but how much?
Key matchups: Clemson’s defense against Wake Forest’s offense. The Demon Deacons had one of the best offenses in the Bowl Subdivision ranks last year and are third in the ACC in scoring (42.0) through three games. But the Tigers have held their first three opponents to a combined 42 points and an average of 312.7 yards per game.
The pick: Even in winning the ACC Atlantic last year, Wake Forest couldn’t handle Clemson in what was a down year for the Tigers. The last four losses to Clemson have been by an average of 38 points, including a 48-27 defeat at home in November. Clemson has eased into its 3-0 start. Can Wake provide better insight into the Tigers’ ceiling? Clemson 31-21.
Pac-12 football:How does Arizona State match up against reigning champion Utah?
Other games to watch:
No. 10 Arkansas vs. No. 23 Texas A&M: At Arlington, Texas. Can Arkansas’ shaky pass defense, which ranks last in the Southeastern Conference in yards allowed per game (353) and per pass (8.5), be the tonic for an Aggies offense that has had a hard time staying on the field? Texas A&M had won nine straight, though mostly close games, in the series before the Razorbacks snapped the slide last season … Texas A&M 26-21.
Wisconsin at No. 3 Ohio State: The Buckeyes have won eight straight meetings overall and the Badgers have not won in Columbus since 2004… Ohio State 38-21.
No. 7 Southern California at Oregon State: The Beavers are built to exploit USC’s issues up front on defense, but can they keep up with QB Caleb WIlliams, WR Jordan Addison and a Trojans offense averaging 7.96 yards per play (fourth in the nation)? USC 35-28.
No. 20 Florida at No. 11 Tennessee: Once the SEC’s most important rivalry, the Gators have won 16 of 17 … Tennessee 34-26.
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