Wake Forest hosts Duke in meeting of slumping instate rivals
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Wake Forest’s fast-paced offense has slowed down. The Demon Deacons hope to rediscover their rhythm against Duke.
The Demon Deacons play host to the Blue Devils on Saturday night in the 100th meeting of instate Atlantic Coast Conference rivals who have stumbled into slumps.
The teams were outscored by a combined 101-9 last week, with Wake Forest (7-3, 3-3) falling to No. 3 Clemson 52-3 before Duke (4-6, 2-4) was routed 49-6 by a Syracuse team that hadn’t won an ACC game all season, a performance that had coach David Cutcliffe saying his team’s effort did not match the Orange’s “and that’s not typical of a Duke football team.”
“There is nothing easy about it. It’s not easy for anybody in our football world,” Cutcliffe said. “Everybody — everybody — is suffering to some manner.”
The Demon Deacons have lost two straight to drop from the national rankings while the Blue Devils have dropped four in a row while slipping to the brink of bowl ineligibility. Duke must beat Wake Forest and Miami next week to reach the six-win mark.
“You have a team that has a chance for a really good season and a special year,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said, “against a team that is fighting for its life.”
Wake Forest was in that very same position a year ago, needing to beat Duke in the regular-season finale to earn a bowl berth — and wound up routing the Blue Devils 59-7.
“Embarrassment. They came on our field, put 50-something on us,” Duke defensive end Chris Rumph II said. “We’ve had this marked on our schedule since last year, and we’re coming to practice with a mindset that that’s not going to happen again. We’re going to their house this year.”
Wake Forest at one point had the ACC’s second-best total offense but slipped to third after its two least productive performances came in the past two weeks — a slide that coincided with a season-ending injury to top receiver Sage Surratt. The Demon Deacons were held to 301 total yards in a 36-17 loss at Virginia Tech, then managed just 105 yards against Clemson.
They’ll try to get back on track against the Blue Devils, who have allowed a total of 574 yards rushing and 87 points in back-to-back losses to No. 15 Notre Dame and Syracuse.
Some things to know about the Duke-Wake Forest game:
The Demon Deacons are trying for their first sweep of the other three instate ACC schools since 2007. It would mark just the eighth time it’s happened in program history.
Duke has lost four straight November games — two last season, and two this year — by a combined 181-26. The Blue Devils failed to score more than seven points in any of them.
Turnovers have been telling for both teams, though Wake Forest (11) has been decidedly better with the ball than Duke (24). The Demon Deacons are 0-3 when they turn it over multiple times — but are 7-0 when they give it away no more than once — while Duke has 22 turnovers in its six losses but just two in its four wins.
Duke holds a 58-39-2 record in the series and has won five of the last seven meetings after Wake Forest won 12 in a row from 2000-11. The Blue Devils have not lost in Winston-Salem since 2011 and the home team has not won since Duke’s victory in 2014.