WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -So much for shedding the underdog label at Wake Forest.
For all the progress the Demon Deacons made last year in winning the Atlantic Coast Conference and reaching the Orange Bowl, they begin their follow-up season in a familiar role: considerable underdogs, picked to lose their opener at Boston College by a touchdown.
But that's just fine for coach Jim Grobe's team.
``We love being the underdog - that's where Wake Forest has been known to be,'' center Steve Justice said Tuesday. ``That brought us success last year, and that's what we want it to be this year. If we're not the underdog, that's not good for us. We like to go out and show people what we're really made of.''
That us-against-the-world mentality helped Wake Forest overcome low expectations a year ago.
The preseason last-place pick in the ACC's Atlantic Division, the Demon Deacons wound up winning a school-record 11 games, shutting out Florida State in Tallahassee, beating Georgia Tech in the conference title game and finishing at No. 18 nationally.
``I'm so used to being the underdog and upsetting people,'' receiver Kenny Moore said. ``People that think we're not that good, I love to prove them wrong.''
The 2006 season also seemed to serve notice that maybe the ACC's balance of power was shifting, and that no longer would the Demon Deacons be the lovable losers of years past.
Before last year, Wake Forest had never won more than eight games in a season and had played in just six bowls in more than a century of football. The team claimed its only other conference title in 1970.
``We're just a little team with little people,'' Moore said with a hint of sarcasm. ``We'll do what we can to get a little shine and a little love, be mentioned a little bit.''
Clearly, Moore and his teammates will have plenty of chances to sway public opinion - and plenty of ground to make up - once the season starts. Wake Forest began the week as a seven-point underdog to a Boston College team that's breaking in a rookie coach and seven new assistants.
's thoughts this year.''
They won't have to wait long to find out how far they still have to go. A week after the opener against fellow Atlantic Division foes, the Demon Deacons host No. 20 Nebraska.
``Opening against a team that some people have picked to win the division, I think that maybe they're the best team in the league,'' Grobe said. ``It's just a really tough job for us, and at the same time there's opportunity. If you go up, play well and are able to sneak away with a win, it could be a great jump start to our season.''
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