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Clemson Football

Keys to Victory: No. 3 Clemson vs. Wake Forest

November 16, 2019

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Each week we give you a look at the history of the game, three keys to success, plus our staff predictions.

The Match-Up:

#3 Clemson (10-0, 7-0 ACC) vs Wake Forest (7-2, 3-2 ACC)

Clemson vs. Wake Forest 2018

Clemson vs. Wake Forest 2017

All-Time Series:

Clemson leads: 66-17-1
at Clemson: Clemson leads 38-7
at NC State: Clemson leads 25-10-1
Neutral: Clemson leads 3-0
Last Meeting: Clemson won 63-3 (2018)
Last Wake Forest win: 12-7 (2008)
Streak: Clemson has won 10 straight in the series

Listen Live: Fox Sports Radio 1400 on iHeart Radio

Stat of the Week:

Clemson is attempting to open a season 11-0 for the fifth time in program history, joining 11-0 starts in 1948, 1981, 2015 and 2018.

The 2019 Clemson seniors are attempting to win their 52nd game in the last four years to move into fourth for the most career victories by a senior class in FBS history. Only the 2018 Clemson and Alabama seniors (55 each) and 2017 Alabama seniors (53) have recorded at least 52 wins in four years.

With a win, the 2019 senior class would improve to 30-2 in regular-season ACC play to match the 2018 seniors (30 from 2015-18) as the winningest class in school history in regular-season conference play, one shy of the conference record of 31.

The Tigers are also attempting to win their 26th consecutive game, dating to the start of the 2018 season, to extend the longest winning streak in school history and second-longest winning streak in ACC history.

Clemson could also win their 22nd consecutive home game, breaking the record for the longest home winning streak in school history, set across the 2013-2016 seasons. Clemson's last home loss came on Nov. 12, 2016, against Pitt 43-42 on a last-second field goal. The current 21-game streak is presently tied for the school record and is only the second home winning streak of at least 20 games in school history.

With Alabama's home loss last week, Clemson now holds the nation's longest active home winning streak.


Key 1: Quick Start

One thing is for sure, the Tigers have been on a tear since escaping North Carolina earlier this season. Clemson has ripped off five consecutive victories by an average score of 53-11 and during that run, have outscored their contemporaries in the ACC (FSU, Louisville, Boston College, and NC State) by a margin of 204-41. Mix in the fact that Dabo Swinney has gone deep into the bench earlier in each of those games, and you can only imagine what those numbers could have been.

If the Tigers get out of the gates quick against Wake, you are going to see a similar result in Death Valley this afternoon.

Key 2: You better recognize

When is Travis Etienne ever going to get the respect he deserves from the national media? Right now, Etienne is 4th in the FBS in rushing yards, and he’s averaging 8.9 yards per carry. What makes his numbers even more impressive is that he’s racked up 1,214 yards on just 137 carries. The nation’s leader, Chuba Hubbard, has 1604 yards but has carried the ball 236 times.

Name School Carries Yards TDs
Chuba Hubbard Oklahoma St. 236 1604 18
AJ Dillon Boston College 272 1451 13
Jonathan Taylor Wisconsin 208 1259 15
Travis Etienne Clemson 137 1214 13
J.K. Dobbins Ohio State 166 1200 11

If Etienne has another big day, he has currently put together five consecutive 100+ yards performances, it will be hard to justify not talking about him more for the Doak Walker Award. 

One other note about Etienne, who could be playing in his final game in Death Valley, the junior from Jennings, Louisiana, has a chance to close in on several Clemson records. Etienne needs just 243 yards to surpass James Davis for 2nd all-time on Clemson’s career rushing list. He is also now within striking distance of Raymond Priester’s 3,966 rushing yards, needing just 329 yards to take over the top spot. 

Name Years Yards TDs
Raymond Priester 1994-1997 3,966 21
James Davis 2005-2008 3,881 47
Travis Etienne 2017-2019 3,638 50
C.J. Spiller 2006-2009 3,547 32
Andre Ellington 2009-2012 3,436 33

Etienne could also move past several former Tigers today on the single-season rushing yardage list. Last season, he put up a school-record 1,648 yards, but with a decent afternoon today (132 yards), his 2019 total could move past Terrance Flagler’s 1,258, and Raymond Priester’s top two seasons of 1,322 and 1,345 yards. 

Key 3: Stay Safe

Sitting at No. 3 in the College Football Playoff, Clemson doesn’t need to be overly impressive against anyone remaining on their schedule, but you certainly want to avoid looking average. 

The real key for the Tigers continues to be the health of the team. They’ve been relatively healthy this year, so you have to give Swinney credit because getting the big dogs out of the game early has been extremely beneficial.

We said it last week, and we will say it again, the goal should be to get up big as quickly as possible and get the starters out of the game.


Well, last weekend we had our first-ever perfect prediction from the group as Lowell nailed his 55-10 pick, thanks in part to a missed Jamie Skalski extra point. Leave it to Coach Swinney to put a linebacker in the game to try a kick giving Lowell eternal bragging rights.

Thanks, Coach.

Nonetheless, earlier this season, I stated that Clemson feels about “42-10” better than everyone on remaining on their schedule. Well, after watching the Tigers play over the past few weekends, I’m ramping it up to about “59-7” better. 

With Jamie Newman missing several key pieces on offense, it’s hard not to think that Clemson wins big. I’ve picked 59-7 for a few weeks and I figured I would ride it one more time. Why stop a good thing?

Swanny’s Prediction: 59-7 Clemson


Final Score Predictions: 

  vs. Wake Forest Winner of the Week Season Score
Lawton  59-7 Clemson Georgia Tech, Wofford 14
Sanders 42-20 Clemson Charlotte 12
Lowell 56-17 Clemson Syracuse, NCST 16
Brandon 48-13 Clemson   10
Cade 49-14 Clemson FSU, Boston College 14
Rob 42-7 Clemson Texas A&M, North Carolina, Louisville 16
Simulation 👑 48-13 Clemson   10

Perfect Prediction = 5 points              Best Prediction = 3 Points         Correct Prediction = 1 Point 

👑= 2018 Prediction Champion

**Pick of the Week: Indicates the best prediction.

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Keys to Victory: No. 3 Clemson vs. Wake Forest

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