SI.com's Cory McCartney analyzes the matchups.
Coach Randy Edsall has became a hot commodity after a season that, aside from the drubbing at the hands of West Virginia, was a banner year. UConn earned its first win over a ranked opponent when it beat then-No. 11 South Florida, its first Top 25 appearance and won a share of the Big East crown. The Huskies aren't gong to wow anyone on offense, ranking 84th overall, and have a running-back-by-committee in sophomores Donald Brown II and Andre Dixon (a combined 1,558 yards and 11 touchdowns) and a line anchored by 6-foot-3, 300-pound guard Donald Thomas.
Outside of those 66 points the Mountaineers hung on UConn, the Huskies' D was surprisingly stout, allowing more than 19 points two times all season. The Huskies ranked seventh in the nation in turnover margin, snagging 22 interceptions. All-Big East linebacker Danny Lansanah leads the unit with 116 tackles, including 13 ½ for loss and four interceptions.
Jim Grobe followed up last season's 11-3 Cinderella run to the Orange Bowl by leading the Demon Deacons to an 8-4 record and consecutive bowl appearances for the first time. Second-year starter Riley Skinner has made strides as a sophomore, throwing for a 1,936 yards and 11 touchdowns and completing 71.9 percent of his passes (second in the nation). Skinner has relied on senior receiver Kenneth Moore (87 receptions, 899 yards and five TDs) and benefited from the rise of freshman running back Josh Adams (887 yards, five scores).
Like UConn, Wake Forest's defense thrives on turnovers. Between cornerback Alphonso Smith, who is tied for the I-A lead with eight picks, and linebacker Aaron Curry, the Deacons lead the country with six interceptions returned for touchdowns. Wake has terrific against the run, giving up 108.9 yards a game and has held eight opponents to 95 yards or less, including Vanderbilt, which managed 16 yards.
This will basically be a home game for the Demon Deacons, with Charlotte 80 miles from the Winston-Salem campus. Wake Forest quickly ran through its 12,500-ticket allotment before asking for 2,500 more tickets and Grobe has estimated some 30,000 Wake fans will flood Bank of America Stadium.
Curry & Co. should be able to counter UConn's ground game, with Grobe surely going to the blueprint of clogging up the running lanes that Cincinnati used in limiting UConn to 31 yards and three points.
It's not exactly another BCS victory, but a win will be another sign that Grobe is building Wake into a perennial ACC contender.
The pick: Wake Forest 24, UConn 17