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2018 Wake Forest game page

WINSTON-SALEM (Sept. 28) – In a half-way rational world (which the events of the day most assuredly demonstrate we do not live in), two institutions such as Rice and Wake Forest would be expected to line up on even terms on the athletic field, and go toe-to-toe in their game coming up here Saturday (2:30 CDT).

Similar academic philosophies, commonly small enrollments, generally equivalent aspirations, if not out out-and-out scholastic peerage, at least in the same echelon – one could hardly expect any more evenly-situated athletic opponents.

But here we are, on the eve of tomorrow’s kickoff between the Owls and the Demon Deacons (huh?) in Winston-Salem, and the contest is being described by local scribes, and assumed by local hoi-polloi, as a virtual week off for the local contingent.

Such is the lot with which Rice must face, as it strives to escape the nadir of a long, downward slide away from major college athletics relevance.

Now it is true that there is a new management present on South Main, and differences in approach and style and effort can be seen already, on the gridiron, in the locker room, and around athletic climes generally.

Still, after last week’s disappointing loss to Southern Mississippi,, one could hardly expect any self respecting Power Five program, either on the field or in the stands, to consider this week’s opponent in any other way.

And yet there exists at least some evidence to suggest that Old Gold and Black clad fans populating the bleachers of BBS&G Field here Saturday might have reason to find their pulse a bit quickened, if not hopes completely dashed, by the team Coach Mike Bloomgren trots out in their all-white padded PJs.

Let’s look at this opponent’s record. They’re an even 2-2 on the season, which comes to the Deacs as a mile disappointment, what with their 2017 season-capping bowl win over Texas A&M in the Belk Bowl.

The Demon Deacons (quick fact: they’re a Baptist School, kind of a politcally correct Baylor) managed a 23-17 overtime win over the Tulane Green Wave in New Orleans to open the season– hardly a shot heard ‘round the world.

They then added a 51-20 win over powerhouse Towson State, a Baltimore school that combines sort of the least impressive aspects of TSU and the University of Houston.

Then, at home for the first time, and in the shadow of an oncoming hurricane, they lost to Boston College, 41-34 after havi been favored by a similar tally. The Wake defensive secondary was laid bare in that loss.

Next came the home game of the year, a bout last Saturday with Notre Dame – hmm, Catholics versus Baptists – where in the Domers pounded the home team willy-nilly, taking a 49-13 lead into the fourth quarter before giving up a couple of garbage-time TDs leading to a 56-27 final score.

The Wake Forest defense was so impressive in that one, that the result had the team’s defensive coordinator summarily been given the pink slip, whereupn the WF defense is new being managed by a troika of defensive assistants.

What we’r trying to say is... these guys put their pants on one leg at a time, too.

They’ve allowed 97 points across their last two games; sure it was against BC and ND, but the Rice defensive fails have come against high-tempo, high-scoring outfitls Houston and Hawaii, as well.

The Golden Domers .\rolled up 556 offensive yards while scoring a\ eight touchdowns against the Southern Baptists. Granted, ho-hum, the Irish are currently ranked number eight in the nation.

Not that we’d ever wager on our Insitute Boys, one way or the other, but it’s informative to consider Wake's season success against the bettors’ point spread. In a nutshell, there hasn’t been any.

The Deacons are 0-4 against-the-spread in their last four games following an ATS loss, and also 0-4 against the spread in their last four home games. Continuing....Wake Forest is also 0-4 ATS in their last four non-conference games and 0-6 against the spread in their last six games overall.

So it may be best news of all, that those Deacons are a 24.5 point favorite going into the game Saturday.

Or not.