Texas A&M vs. Wake Forest: Belk Bowl Prediction, Game Preview

Texas A&M vs. Wake Forest: Belk Bowl Prediction, Game Preview

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Texas A&M vs. Wake Forest: Belk Bowl Prediction, Game Preview


Three reasons why you should watch the Belk Bowl, why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.


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Belk Bowl
Texas A&M (7-5) vs. Wake Forest (7-5)

Broadcast

Date: Friday, December 29th
Game Time: 1:00 pm
Venue: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC
Network: ESPN

Contact/Follow @PeteFiutak

The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness
(1 best-39 worst): 
26 out of 39

2017-2018 Bowl Central: Schedules, Picks, Love
CFN Expert Consensus Confidence Picks

Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The Belk Bowl

Okay, fine. So this is nothing more than a true exhibition for Texas A&M, considering its really, really rich head coach is waiting in the wings. Jimbo Fisher will kick off a new era, new attitude, and new world for Aggie football, but now it’s up to A&M to show that this really was a good season. It lost three of its last five, but win this, and an eight-win run isn’t really that bad.

Okay, fine. So it’s hard to convince you that Wake Forest is a real deal football power. That might be a wee bit strong, but this is a dangerous team with the type of high-powered offense that can put up points in a hurry if A&M doesn’t get off the bus. The effort is going to be there for a program that’s only played in one bowl since 2011.

Wake Forest lost that 2011 Music City Bowl to Mississippi State, but as a program, it’s won three of the last four and six of the last eight. Okay, that’s going back to 1992, but again, the school cares about these things.

At least Texas A&M battled hard in its last two bowl losses. Before that, the Aggies won four straight after a long, long, LONG period of being a perennial bowl clunker. You want bulletin board stuff? Going back to the 10-2 loss to Florida State in the 1991 Cotton Bowl, A&M is 5-14 in bowls.

Here’s Why Texas A&M Will Win The Belk Bowl

As good as the Wake Forest offense might be, field position is a must. That’s where Shane Tripucka comes in – one of the nation’s top punters who’s averaging over 46 yards per kick. The Aggies are fantastic at flipping the field, allowing just over five yards per return despite giving up a touchdown along the way. The Demon Deacon punt return game is okay, not amazing.

And here comes the Texas A&M pass rush. Wake Forest might be strong in pass protection, but it has to deal with Landis Durham, Jarrett Johnson, and the Aggie defensive front seven that owns the backfield with 40 sacks and 86 tackles for loss on the season. Consistent pressure on Demon Deacon QB John Wolford is a must.

Just assume Texas A&M will run for at least two touchdowns. Wake Forest has an aggressive and dangerous defensive front, but it’s given up two or more rushing scores in each of the last seven games. The Aggie ground game that hit the skids over the second half of the season should go off.

Here’s Why Wake Forest Will Win The Belk Bowl

It’s John Wolford’s game. The Demon Deacon senior quarterback was banged up for the Clemson game, but he was balling the rest of the way, finishing with close to 2,800 yards and 25 scores with just six picks. He also ran for 615 yards and ten touchdowns. Just okay in last year’s bowl win over Temple, this is his finale, and now he should be as healthy as he’s been in months.

The Jimbo factor. It’s always impossible to properly figure out how a team will play for the interim head coach. Special teams coach Jeff Banks will get his shot before Jimbo Fisher takes over, but there’s a big, big difference in a team trying to get through a true exhibition game in a transition period, and a team with the stability and experience of Wake Forest.

Just assume Wake Forest will put the biscuit in the basket every time it’s inside the 20. The Demon Deacon offense dominates in the red zone, scoring 47 of 50 times with two of the misfires in the Clemson game when Wolford didn’t play. The Texas A&M defense is among the worst in the country at red zone D, allowing teams to score 43 of 48 times – offenses score touchdowns a whopping 71% of the time.

You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The Belk Bowl

Let’s just be rude about this. You owe us, Belk Bowl. You owe us big-time. This bowl has been a big dull dud over the last five years – or, at least the final results have been blowouts – ever since NC State got by Louisville 31-24 in 2011. The Belk has provided five straight outcomes decided by double digits, which means …

We’re looking at you, Texas A&M. On talent and skill, the Aggies should roll in this. They’ve got the flash, they’ve got the playmakers, and they’ve got the SEC upside that should be enough to roll though a team like the Demon Deacons, But do they want it? It’s not like the Aggies have played at another level this year when it’s supposed to.

We’re looking at you, Wake Forest. Look, you’ve got talent, and you’re smart, and you’re plucky, but you also lost to Duke. A&M has a few clunker performances on the season, but it doesn’t have a Duke. This can’t be the team that struggled in a 20-19 win over Appalachian State.

Super. So Who’s Going To Win The Belk Bowl?

Texas A&M has more talent, but it hasn’t been able to bust out like it was supposed to – it’s not going to do it now without its head coach around.

This is a flawed Wake Forest team, but it’s able to throw well enough – and it has the quarterback. Wolford, the fantastic Demon Deacon pass rush, and the overall efficiency should be enough to get through this. Head coach Dave Clawson and his staff will be the difference – coaching will matter.

Final Score

Wake Forest 36, Texas A&M 27
More Bowl Info & Get Tickets

Line

Wake Forest -3, o/u: 64.5

ATS Confidence: 3
5: Being in the bar already
0: Watching ball drop … and then trying to get into the bar

Must See Rating: 3
5: New Year’s Eve: Ministry of Sound, Defected London NYE
0: New Year’s Eve with Maroon 5, Las Vegas

Belk Bowl History, Results

Dec. 29, 2016 Virginia Tech 35, Arkansas 24
Dec. 30, 2015 Mississippi State 51 N.C. State 28
Dec. 30, 2014 Georgia 37 Louisville 14
Dec. 28, 2013 North Carolina 39 Cincinnati 17
Dec. 27, 2012 Cincinnati 48 Duke 34
Dec. 27, 2011 N.C. State 31 Louisville 24
Dec. 31, 2010 USF 31 Clemson 26
Dec. 26, 2009 Pittsburgh 19 North Carolina 17
Dec. 27, 2008 West Virginia 31 North Carolina 30
Dec. 29, 2007 Wake Forest 24 Connecticut 10
Dec. 30, 2006 Boston College 25 Navy 24
Dec. 31, 2005 N.C. State 14 USF 0
Dec. 30, 2004 Boston College 37 North Carolina 24
Dec. 27, 2003 Virginia 23 Pittsburgh 16
Dec. 28, 2002 Virginia 48 West Virginia 22

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