|College Football: Wake Forest at Virginia Preview & Picks|
|Written by Anthony Rome|
|Thursday, 01 November 2007 14:45|
Wake Rolling Along
After a slow start to the season, Wake Forest has played its way back into the Top 25.
The No. 21 Demon Deacons (6-2, 4-1 ACC) will look to hold off another team looking to climb back into the rankings when they visit Virginia (7-2, 4-1) on Saturday.
Oddsmakers from Bodog.com have made Wake Forest -1.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday's game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 74% of bets for this game have been placed on Wake Forest -1.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
Wake Forest finished last season ranked No. 18 after going 11-3, beating Georgia Tech in the ACC championship game and earning a bid to the Orange Bowl. This year, however, the Demon Deacons got off to a rough start, losing to Boston College and Nebraska in their first two games.
Wake Forest has since won six straight and are in the poll for the first time this season, tied at No. 21 with Boise State.
"It is fun to be ranked," coach Jim Grobe told Wake's official Web site. "It makes you feel good, but there are a lot of games yet to be played. The important thing for our football team is how we finish the season. We have a lot of work left to do."
The Deacons are in second place in the ACC's Atlantic Division, a half-game behind the No. 2 Eagles. Virginia, meanwhile, leads the Coastal Division, a half-game ahead of No. 11 Virginia Tech.
The Cavaliers, however, are coming off Saturday's shocking 29-24 loss to North Carolina State, which had lost nine straight ACC games. Virginia failed to win a school-record eighth in a row overall and fell out of the rankings from No. 21.
"Guys are heartbroken," defensive end Chris Long said. "We put everything into this, and when you lose a football game, it means a lot. ... It can tear your heart out."
Virginia wasn't able to pull out a victory after winning its last three games by a total of four points. The Cavaliers have won five games this season by six points or fewer.
"I wouldn't call it living on the edge," coach Al Groh said. "I'd say we did whatever we had to win in previous games, and in this particular game, we didn't do enough to win."
The Cavaliers' Jameel Sewell threw for a career-best 260 yards and two scores before leaving with leg cramps with about 7 minutes left. Mikell Simpson ran for 119 yards and a touchdown and also caught a TD pass.
Simpson has carried the ball 37 times for 200 yards and three touchdowns in the last two games, while making 17 catches for 187 yards and a score in those contests after getting just two carries to start the season. He replaced injured starter Andrew Pearman in Virginia's 18-17 win at Maryland on Oct. 20 and scored the winning touchdown with 16 seconds left to cap a remarkable performance that made him the league's offensive back of the week.
Simpson rushed for 81 yards on 21 carries and had four receptions for 35 yards against the Wolfpack, but that wasn't enough for Virginia to avoid the upset.
"N.C. State played a good game, and you have to give them credit," Groh said. "We need better coaching, special teams, offense, defense, pass defense and rush defense. We just didn't do enough to win tonight."
The Demon Deacons are coming off Saturday's 37-10 win over North Carolina. Kevin Marion returned a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, and linebacker Aaron Curry brought back one of his two interceptions 77 yards for a score.
Wake Forest has scored nine non-offensive touchdowns this season - five on interception returns, two after fumble recoveries and one apiece on kickoff and punt returns.
"The less we're on the field and we're putting points on the board, the better," said Riley Skinner, who threw for a season-low 133 yards on 12-of-15 passing.
Josh Adams ran for 82 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries and ranks fourth in the conference with 82.4 rushing yards per game. Junior kicker Sam Swank became Wake Forest's all-time leading scorer, finishing last week's contest with 250 points - 10 more than the total scored by running back Chris Barclay from 2002-05.
"There's definitely some momentum now," Skinner said. "We're improving on what we did wrong in the first two games. We're playing more as a team, more fundamentally sound, and we're not turning the ball over. This is our second turnover-free game in a row."
The Cavaliers lead the series with the Deacons 33-12 and have won 19 of the last 20 meetings.
by: Staff Writers - Email Us
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