|9:00 AM PT10:00 AM MT11:00 AM CT12:00 PM ET4:00 PM GMT12:00 AM 北京时间9:00 AM MST11:00 AM EST, Oct. 7, 2017|
Memorial Stadium, Clemson, South Carolina Attendance: 81,500
No. 2 Clemson expects battle from Wake Forest
CLEMSON, S.C. -- Many college football prognosticators are already forecasting Clemson vs. Alabama III for the national championship in January.
Tigers coach Dabo Swinney wants to hear none of it.
"If we get beat this week, they won't be talking about that anymore, I promise you," Swinney said.
No. 2 Clemson enters its Saturday home game against Wake Forest (noon ET) with a 5-0 overall record and a 3-0 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tigers are riding a 10-game winning streak.
"I'm looking for a biggest-game-of-the-year intensity and mindset every week," Swinney said.
So far, so good for the defending national champion. Clemson began compiling an impressive resume in September, becoming the first team in the FBS history to defeat three Top 15 opponents in the first month of the season.
The Tigers already own victories against Auburn, Louisville and Virginia Tech, all of which entered the Clemson game undefeated.
"This team is on a good path," Swinney said, "but do we have the courage and maturity to do what it takes to stay focused? We'll see."
Color Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson impressed.
"I would say that watching them on film, they are playing as well as any team in the country," Clawson said. "Every year I look at depth charts. I looked at Clemson last year and thought, 'This kid is graduating and this one will leave early. OK, maybe next year is the year that they take a little bit of a dip.'
"But somehow, someway, they lose all these really good players and then come back and are just as good, if not better. Right now they are probably playing better overall football now than when we played them a year ago, when they went on to win the national championship. That is a credit to Coach Swinney and his staff for the level of recruiting and player development. They lose great players and replace them with great players."
Players such as junior quarterback Kelly Bryant, who learned under Deshaun Watson for the past two seasons and has successfully seized the reins of the Tigers' offense, which was believed to be in serious rebuilding mode after losing its top passer, top rusher and top two receivers.
Bryant is averaging 284 yards per game, and he has a team-leading 362 rushing yards. The elusive 6-foot-4, 220-pound Bryant has totaled 200 yards rushing in the Tigers' last two games.
"Kelly Bryant is playing at a really high level," Clawson said.
"A lot of the Clemson offense is designed that the quarterback has to run the football. I felt last year, with Watson, they were only going to run him when they had to. Now they want to run Bryant, and he is a really good back. Their skill players are as good as we will see all year. They haven't missed a beat."
Clemson's defense, meanwhile, is among the best in the country. The Tigers, led by a star-studded defensive front that includes All-America candidates Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence, rank fourth nationally in scoring defense (10.8), seventh in total defense (250.0) and 12th in rushing defense (92.0).
Clemson has won 36 of its past 38 games dating to 2014 and 19 games in a row against ACC Atlantic Division foes.
Wake Forest (4-1, 1-1) won its first four games before faltering late in a 26-19 loss to Florida State last week.
"I'm not sure the last time someone had to play Florida State and Clemson back to back," Clawson said. "I want to thank the ACC office for thinking that we are a team capable of doing that."
Swinney certainly believes the Demon Deacons are capable.
"This is a very, very good football team that we're getting ready to play, and if anybody says anything different, then they have no clue what they're talking about," Swinney said. "This is a dadgum good Wake Forest team. They were a hangnail away from beating Florida State last week, and we probably won't play another team this season that plays as hard as Wake Forest."
Wake Forest certainly appears to be on an upward trajectory. Last season Clawson guided the Deacons to a 7-6 record -- the program's first winning season since 2008 -- capped by a Military Bowl victory against Temple.
The Deacons returned 19 starters off last season's team, including senior quarterback John Wolford.
"They're led by a quarterback who's a winner," Swinney said.
Freshman wide receiver Greg Dortch has had an immediate impact, emerging as one of the league leaders with 30 receptions for 352 yards.
Wake Forest's defense is solid as well. The Deacons had 17 tackles for loss against Florida State, and they lead the nation in that category while allowing only 14.4 points per game -- the 12th-best figure in the country.
"Mark it down," Swinney said. "This is a Wake Forest team that's going to win a bunch of games this year."
Updated October 3, 2017