Every team in the ACC has a couple games they wish they had back from 2012. Whether they didn’t bring their A-game, or the other guys just got lucky, every school would love another shot at an opponent, for the ability to prove it won’t happen again. Luckily, because of conference play and parity in the ACC, many will get a chance at redemption immediately, with rematches already on the books for 2013.
As part of our 2013 college football season preview, we’ve run through the biggest “payback” games for each school. As no team finished with just one loss, there are likely multiple choices for each — none more “right’ than another, necessarily. Still, every selection should help provide some extra motivation for fans as they gear up for this season’s slate of games.
Opponent: Duke Blue Devils
Last Year: Loss, 34-27 vs. Duke
This Year: November 23 vs. Duke
Wake Forest had beaten cross-state rival Duke every single time since 1999. Until late last September, that is, when that streak finally ended. Starting off their year at 3-1, the Demon Deacons looked poised for another surprise season in Atlantic Division contention, but after dropping this one to Duke, it would simply never materialize. Four turnovers in one game will make that happen. As will losing the time-of-possession battle, and struggling on third down.
The Deacs never had this one in hand — far from it — but going into the fourth quarter following a 10-point swing, it sure appeared as if they’d grabbed momentum. However, the Blue Devils offensive attack was simply relentless, especially (surprisingly) on the ground. Despite struggling to run the ball all season, it was two rushing touchdowns (by Anthony Boone and Jela Duncan) that sealed the deal for Duke as an ineffective Wake Forest offense sputtered until a garbage time score by Tommy Bohanon made it look like a one-possession game. Looking back, you can see that the issues plaguing Wake Forest on both sides of the ball during this contest (failure to stop big plays, inability to come from behind) would be indicative of the rest of the season’s struggles.
Going into this season’s matchup between the two schools, no one has the upper hand anymore. Wake’s 12-game winning streak is over, and the Blue Devils were the team that ended up making the postseason. But one season does not make a legacy. Can Duke sustain this success against Wake Forest? That will be up to the Demon Deacons, really. Returning loads of veteran talent — including fourth-year starter Tanner Price — they’ll be well-positioned for a successful season in 2013, though there’s still plenty of kinks to work out, too. Last year’s offense struggled mightily and now returns most of those pieces. Cutting down the turnovers is a start (especially against Duke), but it takes a more aggressive offensive style in order to beat the Blue Devils’ similarly constructed attack. Wake’s overly conservative approach did them in last year, basically handing Duke a victory once they grabbed the lead late. And it won’t get any easier with Boone at the helm full-time now. On defense, the Wake linebackers will have their work cut out for them trying to contain the dual-threat passer. We’re still months away from this contest, obviously, but you can bet the date’s already been circled on every Wake Forest calendar.