On Saturday afternoon, the Clemson Tigers and Wake Forest Demon Deacons will face off in a battle of undefeated ACC teams.
Both of these teams are ranked in the top 25 going into Week 4, and the winner will have the inside track to the regular season title in the ACC.
With both teams looking very similar statistically, the winner of this game will be the team that raises its level the most in the key moments.
Clemson Tigers Overview
Despite a slow start in their season opener against Georgia Tech, the Clemson Tigers have played at an incredibly high level. They are 3-0 on the season, beating the aforementioned Yellow Jackets, along with FCS squad Furman and Group of 5 Louisiana Tech.
All three of those wins have come by at least 23 points, and the Tigers will look to perform just as well against their first-ranked opponent of the 2022 season.
This will be the first road game of the year for Clemson, which is something to keep an eye on from a betting perspective. Last season, Clemson went just 3-2 on the road, losing games away from Death Valley against Pittsburgh and NC State.
That loss to NC State also came in the first road game of the year for the Tigers, who will need to give their all to avoid history repeating itself here.
One thing that could help the Tigers prevent history from repeating itself on the road on Saturday is their stout run defense. Clemson has allowed just 69.0 yards per game on the ground so far this season, albeit against inferior competition.
If they can hold the Demon Deacons to a similar number in this contest, the Tigers could win this game as a touchdown favorite and begin setting their sights on a potential College Football Playoff run.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons Overview
Wake Forest is also 3-0 on the season so far, having beaten VMI, Vanderbilt, and Liberty. The Demon Deacons beat the Keydets and Commodores by double digits but barely survived in their last game against the Liberty Flames, who they held on to beat by just one point.
Wake Forest allowed a touchdown to Liberty in the final two minutes of the game to make the score 37-36 but got a stop on the ensuing two-point conversion attempt to hold on and win that game.
It could be argued that Liberty was a look-ahead spot for the Demon Deacons, who likely had a huge conference game against Clemson on their minds more so than their game against Liberty.
But allowing 36 points and 428 yards of offense to the Flames is certainly a concerning way to go into this contest against a top-five opponent. The Demon Deacons will need to be better by a wide margin on defense to avoid their first loss of the season here.
If this game does turn into a shootout, Wake Forest does have Sam Hartman to lean on at the quarterback position. Hartman has thrown for 625 yards and seven touchdowns through three games, including three touchdowns last week against Liberty.
But Hartman did throw two interceptions against the Flames as well and needs to protect the football against a Clemson team that can build momentum in a hurry after mistakes by their opponents.
Neither of these teams have played any top-level competition so far this season, so this game will be incredibly telling on both sides.
But Wake Forest nearly falling against Liberty last week does not bode well for them against a Clemson team that has a championship pedigree.