WHO: Wake Forest (7-5) vs. Texas A&M (7-5)
WHAT: The 16th Belk Bowl
WHEN: 1 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: Bank of American Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina
THE SKINNY: This year’s Wake Forest squad is a change-up from a typical Demon Deacons squad. It’s the first time since 2009 that Wake has ranked higher in yards per play offensively (30th) than defensively (54th) — though ranking no higher than 83rd on offense every year of this decade until this year likely has something to do with that.
Senior quarterback John Wolford made a massive leap this season, adding nearly 50 points to his efficiency rating, upping his completion percentage from 55.5 to 63.7, his yards per attempt from 5.9 to 8.6 and flipping his touchdown-to-interception ratio from 9-and-10 to 25-and-6. As a result, Wake Forest has hit the 30-point mark seven times in 12 games and stands a puncher’s chance of keeping up with the more athletic Aggies in a track meet.
Texas A&M has to be the happiest team in the country that stumbled to a 1-3 conference finish. Jimbo Fisher is officially an Aggie, and one has to wonder if he imported any knowledge from past games with Wake Forest. The A&M players figure to be energized heading into the game, while one wonders if the coaches will be distracted after game-planning while trying to find new jobs. Nick Starkel re-claimed the starting quarterback job from Kellen Mond over the end of the regular season and responded by throwing 10 touchdowns against five interceptions over the final five games.
He figures to be on his best behavior with the new boss looking on.
THE PICK: Texas A&M 35, Wake Forest 27