Wake Forest Demon Deacons

WINSTON-SALEM, NC - NOVEMBER 5:  Head football coach Dave Clawson of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons looks on from the sidelines during the fourth quarter of an NCAA football game aVirginia Cavaliers on November 5, 2016 at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Dave Clawson inks 8-year extension at Wake Forest

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Wake Forest has rewarded Dave Clawson for his first bowl trip in three years as the Demon Deacons’ head coach with an 8-year extension.

The program announced a new contract for Clawson that keeps him in Winston-Salem through 2024. Financial terms were not disclosed; USA Today‘s salary index placed him at $2.11 million in 2016.

“I am very pleased that Dave has accepted our contract extension,” AD Ron Wellman said in a statement. “The progress shown throughout the program, both on and off the field over the last three years, has been the type of progress we envisioned when Dave came on board. His energy, talent, integrity and ability to recruit, develop and motivate our student-athletes, have led to our success not only on the field but in the classroom. We have an exciting future with Dave leading our program.”

“I am honored to be offered this long-term contract,” said Clawson. “I greatly appreciate the support that our president, Dr. Nathan Hatch, and athletic director Ron Wellman have given to our program, our staff and myself since arriving at Wake Forest three years ago. The future of Wake Forest football is bright and we plan to build on the success of our 2016 season.”

Clawson rocketed Wake Forest to a 4-win improvement in 2016, among the top five for year-to-year improvements among Power 5 schools, with a win over No. 24 Temple in the Military Bowl. That trajectory mirrors the blueprint for previous Clawson stops; he led Fordham from zero to 10 wins over 1999-02, Richmond from three to 11 victories from 2004-07, and Bowling Green from two to 10 wins from 2010-13.

Wake Forest continues ACC’s strong bowl start with upset of No. 24 Temple

Wake Forest running back Cade Carney runs the ball against Temple during the first half of the Military Bowl NCAA college football game, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016 in Annapolis, Md. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
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If the ACC’s upper crust is as competitive as the league’s middle class, Florida State, Louisville and Clemson should go ahead and start popping the champagne now. After 6-6 Boston College and 6-6 NC State earned a pair of bowl victories over fellow 6-6 Power 5 teams on Monday, 6-6 Wake Forest scored an impressive pelt on Tuesday with a 34-26 upset of American champion and 24th-ranked Temple in the Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md.

The Owls, playing on the same field on which they trounced Navy to win their conference title earlier this month, started as they finished that day — with an interception of Wake Forest John Wolford on the third snap of the game, and a 48-yard touchdown pass from Phillip Walker to Adonis Jennings just one play later.

Wolford redeemed himself two drives later, finding Cam Serigne for a game-tying 41-yard touchdown pass and then a 20-yard scoring strike to Tabari Hines one drive later, giving Wake Forest a 14-7 lead at the 5:20 mark of the first quarter.

The lead would not change hands again.

In fact, the Demon Deacons (7-6) ripped off a 31-0 first half run, turning a Temple fumble and interception inside its own territory into a pair of touchdowns to build the 24-point lead.

Temple (10-4) spent the next two quarters chipping away at that deficit, using another long touchdown pass from Walker to Jennings and four Aaron Boumerhi field goals to eventually climb back to within 31-26 with 3:56 left to play in the game. But the Owls’ inability to convert on third down did them in; three of Boumerhi’s four field goals were from 38 yards or closer. Walker completed 28-of-49 passes for 396 yards with two scores to Jennings and an interception, but the Owls netted minus-20 rushing yards and converted only one of a dozen third down tries.

With a chance to force a stop and add a touchdown to complete the comeback, Temple allowed an 80-yard kickoff return by John Armstrong to start Wake Forest’s next drive at the Temple 15-yard line. The Deacons could not move the ball, but a 30-yard Mike Weaver field goal pushed the lead to 34-26 with 1:59 remaining, and Temple’s would-be game-tying drive ended before it started as the Owls were pushed off the field in a turnover on downs.

Wolford completed 10-of-19 passes for 183 yards with two touchdowns and a pick, while Cade Carney and Matt Colburn combined to rush 31 times for 131 yards and a touchdown apiece.

As good as the ACC’s start to bowl season has been, the American’s has been that bad. Outside of Tulsa’s whipping of Central Michigan, the American has fallen short of expectations this December, with Houston being blown out by San Diego State, Memphis failing to keep pace with Western Kentucky, Central Florida losing to Arkansas State in an effective home game, and now its league champion falling to a 6-6 Power 5 team.

Stout defense has Wake rolling over AAC champ Temple in Military Bowl

WINSTON-SALEM, NC - NOVEMBER 5:  Quarterback John Wolford #10 of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons hands off to running back Cade Carney #36 during the first quarter of an NCAA football game against the Virginia Cavaliers on November 5, 2016 at BB&T Field in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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With an off-field controversy seemingly behind them, Wake Forest came into Tuesday afternoon looking for its first postseason win since 2008.  After two quarters of play, they’re 30 minutes away from ending that nearly decade-long drought.

Thanks in very large part to a stifling defense, Wake jumped out to a 14-7 first-quarter lead on Temple in the Military Bowl Presented by Northrup Grumman and extended it even further in the second to take a 31-10 advantage into the halftime locker room.  How stifling was the Demon Deacon defense?  The Owls scored on a 48-yard touchdown pass on their first play from scrimmage.  The remainder of the half, the Owls managed 89 yards of total offense.

Wake’s run defense was particularly effective, holding Temple to just 14 yards on 15 carries, with 23 of those yards coming on a late carry by Jahad Thomas.  The Owls entered today’s game fourth in the AAC and 51st nationally in averaging just over 191 yards per game on the ground.

John Wolford nearly accounted for a majority of the offense for both teams, passing for 183 yards and a pair of first-half touchdowns in helping the Demon Deacons grab a solid first-half lead.  Temple’s offense (137) and Wake’s rushing offense (80) accounted for a combined 217 yards as, aside from Wolford’s performance, it was a decidedly defensive first two quarters of play.

The Owls are currently riding a seven-game winning streak, which included a win in the AAC championship game.  That proved to be Matt Rhule‘s last game as the head coach as he left for the Baylor job and is not coaching this postseason contest.

The Demon Deacons, meanwhile, had lost two of their las eight after winning four straight to start the 2016 season.

CFT Previews: Your Dec. 27 Bowl Viewer’s Guide

ANNAPOLIS, MD - DECEMBER 03:  Members of the Temple Owls celebrate after defeating the Navy Midshipmen 34-10 win the AAC Championship game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on December 3, 2016 in Annapolis, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Taking a quick-hit look at the Dec. 27 bowl menu, which features just the second ranked team to play in the postseason as well as two ACC teams along with one each from the Big 12 and SEC.

WHO: Army (7-5) vs. North Texas (5-7)
WHAT: The 6th Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl
WHERE: Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Texas
WHEN: Noon ET on ESPN
THE SKINNY: This is one of those unique bowl games in which there’s very tangible recent history on which to look back on — North Texas easily handled Army 35-18 in Denton in Week 7 of the 2016 season, thanks in very large part to a whopping seven Black Knight turnovers.  Since that win, UNT has stumbled while Army hasn’t, with the former going 1-4 down the stretch and the latter 3-2.  Army is easily one of my favorite stories of the 2016 college football season, though, with the service academy winning at least seven games — two of those came against FCS teams, it should be noted — for the first time since 2010 and just the third time in nearly three decades; an eighth win would be the program’s most since going 10-2 during the 1996 season.  They capped off this bounceback regular season in the best way possible, too, beating Navy and snapping a 14-game losing streak in the rivalry game in the process.  While it came in a sub-.500 season, the Mean Green will be playing in a bowl game to cap 38-year-old Seth Littrell‘s first season as a head coach, with UNT going bowling for the first time since 2013.  This is likely the most relevant stat for this game: Army is second nationally in rushing yards per game at 327.8, while UNT is 105th (out of 128 teams) in the country in stopping the run at 219.2 ypg.  Army ran for 303 yards in the loss to UNT earlier in the season, but the Mean Green scored 21 points off Black Knights turnovers to secure the 35-18 win.  Here’s to guessing that more than a half-dozen turnovers aren’t on Army’s bowl agenda and they get that eighth win.  Plus, #Merica, which goes without saying
THE LINE: North Texas, +10
THE PREDICTION: Army 27, North Texas 17

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WHO: Wake Forest (6-6) vs. No. 24 Temple (10-3)
WHAT: The 9th Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman
WHEN: 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland
THE LINE: Wake Forest, +11½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Minnesota (8-4) vs. Washington State (8-4)
WHAT: The 39th National Funding Holiday Bowl
WHEN: 7:00 PM ET on ESPN
WHERE: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
THE LINE: Minnesota, +10
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

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WHO: Baylor (6-6) vs. Boise State (10-2)
WHAT: The 28th Motel 6 Cactus Bowl
WHEN: 10:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Chase Field, Phoenix, Arizona
THE LINE: Baylor, +7½
For the remainder of an extended preview, click HERE.

CFT Previews: Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman

ANNAPOLIS, MD - DECEMBER 03: Linwood Crump #46 of the Temple Owls celebrates following the Owls 34-10 win over the Navy Midshipmen during the AAC Championship game at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on December 3, 2016 in Annapolis, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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WHO: Wake Forest (6-6) vs. No. 24 Temple (10-3)
WHAT: The 9th Military Bowl
WHEN: December 27, 3:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Maryland
THE SKINNY:  The game itself has been mostly an afterthought for both teams in the month of December given what has gone on around the programs off the field, but the two resurgent football teams will still meet up to play a football came looking too cap off a banner season for both.

For Temple, they’ll be making a return trip to Annapolis just three weeks after upsetting Navy to capture the American Athletic Conference title for the second ever conference championship in football at the school. As great a run as that was for the Owls, that success came with a price as head coach Matt Rhule departed for Baylor not long after. Former Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins was brought on as his replacement but you do wonder what the motivation factor will be for this game from standout defensive lineman Haason Reddick and company.

As for Wake Forest, they had an impressive turnaround in 2016 that resulted in equalling their win total from the past two years combined. That produced a bowl invite for the first time under head coach Dave Clawson but the excitement over making the postseason has been overshadowed by the #WakeyLeaks scandal that has resulted from a radio analyst giving opponents certain aspects of the Demon Deacons’ game plans over the past two years. Add to that the loss of defensive coordinator Mike Elko to Notre Dame and it hasn’t been a great month of December for the team.

Wake Forest can turn that around with their first bowl win since 2008 but it is probably a bit too much to ask given how talented Temple has been this season. The Owls end up winning this one thanks to their explosive offense getting things done in the fourth quarter to open up a close one for most of the day.

THE LINE: Wake Forest, +11½
THE PREDICTION:
 Temple 31, Wake Forest 20