Where: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
When: Saturday, 3:30 PM EST
TV: ESPN 3
Vegas Odds: Army -2.5
For the second time this season, Army enters the game as the favorite. This time, against an ACC opponent in Wake Forest. Both schools are under new leadership with Dave Clawson now at the helm for the Demon Deacons after leading Bowling Green State University to a MAC Championship in 2013. Army coach Jeff Monken will look to rebound against a struggling Wake Forest team after his Black Knights struggled to move the ball against reigning PAC-12 champion Stanford.
Wake Forest, fresh off a loss to a very tough Utah State team, will look to establish a running game after being held to -25 yards last week. That's right, no typo. Their rushing leader was FR Isaiah Robinson with 13 yards. In both their loss to Utah State and in Week 1 to Louisiana-Monroe, Wake was unable to rush for positive yards.
Wake QB John Wolford, after completing only 20 passes on 50 attempts, will look to lead the Deacons through the air on a defense that has been very opportunistic this season. If Wake is unable to establish the run enough to keep Army's veteran linebackers and secondary honest, then Wolford could see a lot of passes in the arms of the Black Knights.
Army was able to run for almost 200 yards on a physical Stanford defense and no shocker here, will continue to pound the rock against a Deacon defense that has only surrendered 319 yards on the ground in 3 games. Army will need better production out of Angel Santiago and Terry Baggett this week, as Stanford was able to limit them to 29 and 28 yards rushing, respectively.
Army has seen some success when A.J. Schurr has led the offense, as he led Army's only threatening drive last week before failing to convert on downs. It will be interesting to see if Coach Monken will be tempted to use both QBs interchangeably throughout the game to give Wake something extra to think about on defense.
Match Up to Watch: Wake's Rushing vs. Army's Defense
Army was able to limit Stanford to under 200 yards rushing, which was a much more formidable task than stopping Wake on the ground. While at BGSU, Clawson liked to run the ball just enough to open up passing lanes on play action to the tight ends and slot receivers.
Army will need to shut down the young Robinson in order to allow their linebackers to drop back and sit in those passing lanes. Adding some pressure defensively from blitzes will force Wolford to make some bad passes, and players like Josh Jenkinscan add to Wolford's 6 picks he's thrown on the year. If Army can keep up the pressure defensively enough to get their offense clicking, then Army could pull the 'upset' of a Power 5 team.
However, Army will once again run into the issue of playing against a school that will outweigh them on both sides of the line. It will be interesting to see if Army can keep up the intensity for all 4 quarters, something they have failed to do in both games this year.
Prediction: Wake Forest 24, Army 17