It has been quite a week in Aggieland. First Texas A&M ponied up for one of the most sought-after coaches in America, then it accepted an invitation to play Wake Forest in the Belk Bowl, at 1 p.m. ET Friday, Dec. 29 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C.
Here are five things to know about the Demon Deacons, who finished tied for third place in the Atlantic Division of the Atlantic Coast Conference with a record of 4-4 in league play and 7-5 overall.
Wake Forest senior quarterback John Wolford racked up 3,407 yards of total offense this season to set the program’s single-season record. He also has a current streak of throwing at least two touchdown passes in six consecutive games — also a Demon Deacons record.
Wolford finished fifth in the ACC in passing this season, throwing for 2,792 yards and 25 touchdowns. He completed 64 percent of his passes (207-for-325) while throwing just six interceptions, two in the regular season finale — a 31-23 loss to Duke. Wolford set a career-high with 461 passing yards in a 42-32 victory over Louisville.
Wake Forest moves the chains
The Demon Deacons ranked third in total offense in the ACC this season, averaging 450.8 yards per game. They were also third in scoring at 33.7 points per game. Only Louisville and Syracuse moved the ball better among ACC teams. In addition to Wolford’s outstanding work through the air, he’s the team’s second-leading rusher with 615 yards and leads the team with 10 rushing touchdowns. Junior running back Matt Colburn II has had a pretty decent season as well, rushing for a team-high 754 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 5.2 yards per carry.
Defense leaves a lot to be desired
Wake Forest ranks last in the ACC in defense (107th nationally), yielding an average of 444.3 yards per game. However, the Demon Deacons are eighth in the conference allowing 26.3 points per game. In eight games, Wake Forest has given up more than 400 yards. In four games, the Demon Deacons were victimized by opposing offenses piling up at least 500 yards, including a season-high 710 yards in a 48-37 loss at Notre Dame.
But it isn’t all negative for the Demon Deacons defense. They set the single-season school record with 98 tackles for loss this season. And in two games this season, Wake Forest has picked off three passes.
Wake Forest has turned in some impressive performances this season. But there have been some head-scratchers as well. The Demon Deacons own victories over Louisville and North Carolina State (30-24), both at home, but also have home losses to Florida State (26-19) and Duke as well as a road loss at Georgia Tech (38-24).
The Demon Deacons have not been blown out in any game this season, losing by two touchdowns at Clemson, and just 11 points at Notre Dame. They hung 64 on Syracuse on the road, giving up a season-high 43 points to the Orange.
Bowls are a rarity
This will be just the 12th bowl appearance for Wake Forest and second consecutive. The Demon Deacons proved they were worthy by claiming seven regular-season victories, the most since the 2008 team also went 7-5 before winning its bowl. The five victories over bowl-eligible teams this season ties the school record set by that 2008 squad.
Wake Forest is 7-4 all-time in bowl games and 0-2 against SEC teams. Wake fell to LSU 34-10 in the 1979 Tangerine Bowl, longtime head coach Charlie McClendon’s final game with the Tigers, and to Mississippi State 23-17 in the 2011 Music City Bowl. This will be the first meeting between Wake Forest and Texas A&M.