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‘Deacs Bowl Eligible, Ready for More

By BJ Bennett
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Positive traction is now firmly in place for Wake Forest.

(Six) is a magic number, and now you work like crazy to get seven. We've got some tough games ahead of us, but it's nice to know we've got six and we're now bowl eligible.
~Dave Clawson

For the first time since 2011, Wake Forest is bowl eligible. The Demon Deacons, at 6-3, have been one of college football's most improved teams and enter mid-November with a winning record in the ACC. In his third season in Winston-Salem, Dave Clawson has already matched the win total of his first two years combined. Progress, for Wake Forest, will come with a well-deserved trip to the postseason.

The Demon Deacons have won football games by winning the turnover battle. Wake Forest has the best margin, +8, in the ACC and has been at least even in every single conference game this fall. An effective defensive unit has intercepted eleven passes and recovered nine fumbles for the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest has lost just four fumbles.

Opponents are averaging only 18.4 points per game versus the Demon Deacons, who trail only Clemson in scoring defense among league teams. Right behind the likes of Michigan and Ohio State, Wake Forest ranks fifth nationally in redzone defense, allowing merely 67.8% of trips to result in points. The Demon Deacons have also been extremely-effective at preventing the big play in the ground game, allowing the same number of runs of 30 yards or more, just two, as Alabama. Over the past month, no foe has scored over 20 points.

Wake Forest's defense has had some impressive performances in its recent run. The 17 points the Demon Deacons held Florida State to were the Seminoles' fewest at home dating back to 2011. Wake Forest limited Syracuse to just nine points, the second-lowest total, for the Orange, since the end of 2014. The Demon Deacons are fresh off a five-sack effort against Virginia, a contest where a late Jessie Bates interception return for a touchdown proved to be the difference. 

Offensively, Wake Forest continues to make strides with a young unit. From 1.25 yards per carry two years ago to 3.03 last season, the Demon Deacons are now averaging 3.99 yards per attempt this fall. 

Saturday's triumph resulted in bowl eligibility, but was also a testament to Wake Forest's will to win as the Demon Deacons simply found a way to yet another important victory.

"I'm really, really proud of our guys. It's not always pretty, it's not how you script it, but today we ran the ball for over 200 yards, our defense played really well, and we got a fourth quarter comeback to get to six wins now," Clawson explained. "We've got more work to do, but it's a great feeling and I'm proud of them."

Looking ahead, Wake Forest is set to challenge itself against two of the premier teams in the country: one-loss Louisville and undefeated Clemson. The Demon Deacons will now face the Heisman Trophy frontrunner and one of the leading candidates for the College Football Playoff in consecutive weeks, a fitting litmus test for a program on the rise. Wake Forest, which finishes with Boston College, needs one win against the aforementioned three to ensure a winning record.  

Clawson and the Demon Deacons are ready for the opportunity.

"(Six) is a magic number, and now you work like crazy to get seven. We've got some tough games ahead of us, but it's nice to know we've got six and we're now bowl eligible. We're going to work on seven and see what we can do, but it's a great feeling," he added.

Positive traction is now firmly in place for Wake Forest. The process isn't over, but the improvement made is worth noting.

"This gives us momentum, along with building a brand new football center. This gives us recruiting momentum, this gives us program momentum. The greatest thing about this whole thing is that locker room," Clawson nodded. "We have some kids in there who have really busted their butts and put a lot into this program for three, four, five years.The high of moments like that is why you keep (coaching)." 

Having already earned another football game, the Demon Deacons' current efforts are also solidifying their future.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: / Twitter: @BJBennettSports