ACC: Deacs desperate
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 26, 2008
WINSTON-SALEM ó Wake Forest needs a win to improve its standing in the topsy-turvy ACC’s bowl-game pecking order.
The Demon Deacons were up three weeks ago, tied for the Atlantic Division lead and looking at playing for the league championship for the second time in three years. But after back-to-back losses, Wake (6-5, 4-4) desperately needs to defeat Vanderbilt Saturday to avoid a possible early holiday vacation.
“We’ve told our kids, ‘Like it or not, this is a really, really important game,’ ” Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said. “I don’t think we can be comfortable with six wins … and there’s some pressure on our guys to play well and be as well-regarded as the past couple of teams we’ve had.
“There’s a lot of teams who would like to be in our situation, but because the way the last two weeks have unfolded … it’s not a feel-good situation right now.”
Currently, the ACC has nine bowl-eligible teams, each having six or more wins, with two more teams ó N.C. State and Virginia, each at 5-6 ó on the bubble.
The league has eight bowl-game tie-ins ó not counting its berth in one of the five Bowl Championship Series games ó and winning Saturday would virtually assure Wake Forest its third consecutive postseason berth.
It’s not a must-win situation Wake Forest envisioned three weeks ago, when winning its last two league contests would have given the Demon Deacons a chance to play in the ACC championship game.
However, in-state rival N.C. State and Boston College spoiled those plans with close wins to shove the Deacs out of the division lead and down the postseason order.
“We’ve had our chances to make the plays, but we haven’t made them,” senior defensive end Matt Robinson said. “That’s on every player on the team ó it’s our job to make the plays.
“We’ve all got to look in the mirror and decide that we’re all going to play better this week.”
The loss to the Eagles was especially galling to Wake, which fell behind in the first half only to rally and take a 21-17 lead early in the fourth quarter. But Dominique Davis’ 1-yard quarterback sneak with 1:12 remaining gave BC a 24-21 victory.
“We saw the film on that game last night, and that was the sickest four minutes of my life,” senior defensive back Alphonso Smith said. “We had so many chances to make plays … but we’ve got to get over it.
“We have no choice ó it’s either get over it or go home and have a long Christmas break, and that’s not playing football.”