WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -School records, national rankings, bowl berths, an ACC championship - Wake Forest has accomplished plenty during its two-year rise to relevance.
There's still one thing the Demon Deacons haven't done during that span: beat Clemson.
Coach Jim Grobe's team is looking to change that Thursday night when No. 21 Wake Forest plays host to the Tigers in what's almost an elimination game between the two preseason favorites in the league's Atlantic Division.
t every week is going to be a challenge, and if we're going to stay in the driver's seat, we're going to have to win.''
Under Grobe, the Demon Deacons (3-1, 1-0) have always been a pesky opponent for Clemson, but he's only 2-5 against Tommy Bowden's team and in the past two years his team has simply found ways to lose to the Tigers.
Wake Forest's last win in the series came in 2005, the year before it emerged as an upstart by winning the ACC and reaching an unlikely Orange Bowl.
But even during that breakout '06 season in which the Demon Deacons won a school-record 11 games, they couldn't top Clemson.
They blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead that year and lost 27-17, then followed it up by being thoroughly outplayed in a 44-10 defeat in Death Valley.
``I think the biggest thing's not the Clemson thing. The biggest thing is, we went down and just got embarrassed,'' Grobe said. ``It wasn't even fair. ... They basically just owned us last year, so I would like to think that our players are as embarrassed as the coaches are.''
Both teams are coming off humbling home performances to sully what once shaped up as a prime-time matchup of Top 25 teams.
``You can't say 'must-win,' but you really put yourself in a deep hole and have to be hoping for a lot of things to happen if we don't win this game against Wake Forest,''' receiver Aaron Kelly said.
to win the league and possibly contend for a national title, fell apart in the second half against Maryland, gaining just 112 yards after halftime and blowing an 11-point halftime lead in a 20-17 loss that knocked them out of the polls.
``If they win, you have to monitor the overconfidence factor. If they lose, it's the negative factor,'' Bowden said. ``You've played five games, the season's over, the sky is falling. You can't accomplish anything with the high expectations that we had.''
Wake Forest - the only Atlantic Division team without a conference loss - turned it over six times in a 24-17 loss to a Navy team the Deacons claim to have taken for granted.
``If we had won the Navy game, some of those thoughts (of the league title) might be going through our kids' minds, but I think after losing the Navy game, there aren't a lot of thoughts going through there other than we need to play better,'' Grobe said. ``I don't think they're looking at division standings and all that kind of stuff. It's amazing how a loss will wake you up.''
For the Demon Deacons, the key is simple: slow down James Davis and C.J. Spiller.
When the Tigers' one-two punch can't get rolling, the team has struggled. They combined for 20 yards rushing in a season-opening loss to Alabama, and the pair had 31 yards in the second half against the Terrapins.
`Just going into this game, we're probably going to be fired up.''
Spiller has broken off big scoring plays in each of his past two games against Wake Forest, returning a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown last season and dashing 72 yards for a TD the year before.
``We all chased, but I don't remember him being caught,'' Wake Forest linebacker Stanley Arnoux said. ``One bad play, and he can take it 80.''

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