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Preview and Prediction: Clemson Tigers vs. Wake Forest

Clemson owns 67 all-time wins over Wake Forest, its second-highest victory total against any opponent (71 wins vs. South Carolina).
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Clemson owns 67 all-time wins over Wake Forest, its second-highest victory total against any opponent (71 wins vs. South Carolina). Clemson has a 57-9-1 lead in the series since the formation of the ACC in 1953, an .858 winning percentage. 

Clemson is 25-10-1 all-time against Wake Forest in games played in Winston-Salem since 1936. Clemson has played Wake Forest in football 67 consecutive years, as the last year the two schools did not play was 1952. Only South Carolina has a longer string of consecutive seasons played against the Tigers, a string that will come to an end in 2020 after 111 years. 

Clemson has won 11 in a row in the series, all under Head Coach Dabo Swinney, by a combined score of 442-127. That represents an average victory margin of 28.6, and Clemson has scored at least 28 points in all 11 games. This will be the 10th straight year that Wake Forest has faced a Top 20 Clemson team, including six years in a row facing a Top 5 Clemson squad.

What to watch for on offense:

- Travis Etienne attempting to rush for a touchdown in a 10th straight game, dating to last season, to move past Lester Brown (1978), Terry Allen (1988-89) and James Davis (2005-06) for sole possession of the longest such streak in school history. 

- Etienne attempting to score a touchdown on any kind in a 13th consecutive game to pull within one game of the school record held by C.J. Spiller (14 straight games in 2009). - Etienne (5,122) gaining eight all-purpose yards to pass Sammy Watkins (5,129) for second on Clemson's career all-purpose yardage leaderboard. C.J. Spiller holds the Clemson and ACC record at 7,588. 

- Etienne (5,122) needing 142 all-purpose yards to enter the Top 10 in career all-purpose yards in ACC history

- Quarterback Trevor Lawrence (66) sitting one passing touchdown shy of entering the Top 10 in career passing touchdowns in ACC history. He is within striking distance of No. 10 Thaddeus Lewis (67), No. 9 Darian Durant (68), Nos. 7 Brad Kaaya and Lamar Jackson (69) and No. 6 Jacory Harris (70). 

- Lawrence (seven) attempting to join Tajh Boyd (18), Deshaun Watson (13) and Charlie Whitehurst (eight) as the only players in school history to record at least eight career 300-yard passing games. His next 300-yard game would tie him with Whitehurst for third in school history. -

 Lawrence entering the game having thrown 239 consecutive passes without an interception. With five more attempts without an interception, he would pass Mitch Trubisky (243 from 2015-16) for the fourth-longest in ACC history. He is 32 attempts short of passing Drew Weatherford (270 in 2007) for third. 

What to watch for on defense: 

-Clemson opened the 2019 season by keeping each of their first 12 opponents to fewer than 300 yards, marking the first time in ESPN Stats & Info searchable data going back to 1996 that a team had held the first 12 opponents of a season under that mark. ACC Coastal Division champion Virginia became the first team to hit the 300-yard plateau on Clemson, accounting for 387 in the ACC Championship Game.

- Nyles Pinckney, DT: Had four tackles in 31 snaps as a starter in 2019. Had three tackles, including a tackle for loss, as well as a quarterback pressure, in 33 snaps in 2018. Had a two-yard sack in 13 snaps in 2017.

- Derion Kendrick, CB: Had one tackle, as well as a pass breakup in 31 snaps as a starter, along with two kickoff returns for 51 yards and a four-yard punt return, in 2019. Played in 22 snaps in 2018

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The 2020 season marks Clemson's 68th year of membership in the ACC, dating back to the conference's first year of play in 1953. In its previous 67 seasons of ACC membership, Clemson has posted a 41-25-1 record in conference openers. Clemson has won its last five ACC openers, including road victories at Louisville in 2015 and 2017, road wins at Georgia Tech in 2016 and 2018 and a season-opening home win against Georgia Tech in 2019. 

Last season broke a streak of seven consecutive years that Clemson had to travel to open ACC play, so this year will represent the eighth time in nine years that Clemson will open ACC play on the road. Head Coach Dabo Swinney is 7-4 in ACC openers at Clemson, with all four losses coming to Top 20 opponents, including No. 15 Georgia Tech in 2009, No. 16 Miami (Fla.) in 2010, No. 4 Florida State in 2012 and No. 1 Florida State in 2014. Three of those four contests were on the road. The Tigers are seeking a sixth consecutive victory in conference openers, which would pass the 1980-84 squads for the longest streak in school history. 

With a win on Thursday, the 2020 senior class would become the seventh senior class in Clemson history to win all four of its ACC openers, joining 4-0 records posted by the 1983, 1984, 1989, 2005, 2018 and 2019 senior classes in ACC debuts

Predictions:

Zach Lentz: Clemson 52-10

Clemson rolls scores early and often, with Lawrence and Etienne both staking their claim as favorites for the Heisman Trophy. Wake Forest is the first of many teams that get Will Swinny'd before the fourth quarter—in fact, they may get Herbstreited also before the fourth quarter.

Brad Senkiw: Prediction: Clemson 48, Wake Forest 10

The Tigers will put this one away early behind big a first half from Travis Etienne and then let the youth play much of the second half.

Travis Boland: Prediction Clemson 45 Wake Forest 14

Trevor Lawrence starts his march toward the Heisman Trophy with four touchdown passes and Kirk Herbstreit weeps openly on air when his kid takes the field.

Jason Priester: Prediction Clemson 42, Wake Forest 6 

The talent gap between these two teams is just too wide. Travis Etienne leads the way as the Tigers jump up early and cruise to an easy win.

Christopher Hall: Prediction: Clemson 56 Wake Forest 6 

Travis Etienne and Lyn-J Dixon both surpass the century mark while the defense holds Wake Forest out of the end zone for the third straight meeting while recording a touchdown of its own.