College Football preview: Vanderbilt at Wake Forest
Published 12:00 am Friday, November 28, 2008
WINSTON-SALEM ó If you told a Wake Forest fan three years ago that the Demon Deacons would have a winning record going into the last weekend of the regular season, they’d likely be thrilled.
If you said the same thing last year to a Vanderbilt supporter there would be reason to celebrate.
That’s the scenario for both tradition-starved schools heading into today game in Winston-Salem, but forgive these long-suffering fans if they’re not exactly ecstatic.
Sure, Vanderbilt (6-5) is assured of a bowl game for the first time in 26 years. But the Commodores started 5-0, only to free-fall out of the rankings with losses in five of their last six games, including an ugly meltdown last week against state rival Tennessee.
Wake Forest’s three-year rise from laughingstock to contender looked to be close to reaching another plateau earlier this month when the Demon Deacons were in great shape to reach the ACC title game for the second time in three years. But consecutive losses to North Carolina State and Boston College have left Wake Forest (6-5) perhaps needing a win Saturday just to make a lower-tier bowl.
“We’re hurting now because there are (nine) teams in the ACC that are bowl eligible, and we’re the smallest school of them all,” cornerback Alphonso Smith said. “So if the bowls pick someone, it’s going to be the biggest schools. Every game counts, and 6-6 doesn’t do it for us.”
Wake Forest has appeared in consecutive bowls for the first time in school history.