Wake Forest held on in a wild and crazy 55-52 Belk Bowl shootout over Texas A&M. Here are five things that matter.
2017 Belk Bowl: Wake Forest 55, Texas A&M 52
5. Be better than the Belk? Good luck with that.
If that’s not the best game of the 2017-2018 bowl season, it’s going to be awfully close.
That’s exactly what you want out of a not-College Football Playoff bowl game. 646 yards of total offense for Wake Forest. 614 for Texas A&M. No defense, wild mood swings, amazing performances, heroic stuff from the main guys.
And two teams that really, really wanted to win this.
It came down to stopping Texas A&M on the last gasp for a possible final field goal attempt, and for once, the Wake Forest defense came through. Other than that, this was a blast.
4. Nick Starkel
Kellen Mond might still be the Texas A&M quarterback with the biggest upside, but to start out the Jimbo Fisher era, Nick Starkel is a great guy to lead the way.
The freshman completed 42-of-63 passes for 499 yards and four scores with a pick, limped around a bit after getting beaten up, and bombed the team back into the game after a rough start.
Thrown into a tough situation this season, he turned into one of the biggest bright spots for a team with a world of upside. Christian Kirk and his 13 catches for 189 yards and three scores might be gone, but there’s a lot for the $70 million new man to work with.
3. John Wolford
Texas A&M might have started a freshman, but the Wake Forest veteran came through.
John Wolford has always been a baller, and he did everything he needed to do late to hit the key throws at the right times, overcome a rocky third quarter, and pull off a win that really, really matters to the program.
The seniors completed 32-of-49 passes for 400 yards and four scores, and ran for 68 yards, getting the team out to a hot start, and pulling off 14 fourth quarter points for the win.
2. The Texas A&M players
It seems wrong to give credit to football players for trying hard at football, but with all the turmoil and all of the issues after losing head coach Kevin Sumlin, the disappointing season could’ve been a whole lot uglier.
The defense didn’t have it, but it stepped it up in the second half, led by a great third quarter. But it was the offense that helped take over to make this such an epic bowl.
The players came out with energy, fight, and care – they busted it to try winning this.
At the end of the day, no, the Belk Bowl doesn’t matter to the rest of the world. But unlike some teams this bowl season, Texas A&M played like it was the Rose Bowl.
1. Dave Clawson
He turned around Fordham in two years. He turned around Richmond in one year. He turned Bowling Green into a MAC champion in five years. And now, Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson took a program that went 6-18 in his first two years to two straight bowl wins.
Winning the Military and Belk bowls might not be the be-all-end-all in terms of post season battles, but Clawson now has two of the program’s eight all-time bowl victories.
Wake Forest has just 12 bowl games in it history, and a mere two since 2011 and three since 2008. He’s doing it with a fun, exciting offense, and an aggressive defense that might not always be effective, but attacks.
Wake Forest just beat Texas A&M. And now, Clawson has a great bowl victory to prove that things really are on the right track.