No. 18 Wake Forest won its second outright ACC Atlantic Division title on Saturday, clinching a spot in the ACC Championship Game with its 41-10 win at Boston College. The Demon Deacons will play Pittsburgh in Charlotte next Saturday night, with the winner booking a spot in a New Year's Six bowl game.
All season, the Demon Deacons have flexed their muscles with one of the most dangerous passing attacks in the country and they showed out again in the big win. Quarterback Sam Hartman threw three touchdown passes and ran for another, helping pad the lead through the air before the offense iced the game in the fourth quarter with the rushing attack.
The one-two punch of A.T. Perry (four catches, 81 yards, two touchdowns) and Jaquarii Roberson (five catches, 71 yards) wore down the Boston College secondary throughout the game, and Perry's second touchdown proved to a be key moment in the game. Defending a seven-point lead as time ran down before halftime, Perry's score not only gave the Demon Deacons a 24-10 lead going into the locker room, but set a new single-season touchdown reception mark in the Wake Forest record books.
Dave Clawson, who agreed to a contract extension this week, is going to be happy with the performance of the defense as he moves this team from the celebration of the moment to next week's championship game. QB Phil Jurkovec and the Boston College offense didn't have a great day, mustering just 19 passing yards on 12 total attempts, two of which were interceptions. The turnovers and big stops by the Demon Deacons helped squash the competitiveness of the contest just as much as the prolific offense pouring on points.
"It's a great feeling. It's been a lot of hard work by a lot of people. I'm proud of our players, I'm proud of our staff, everyone at Wake Forest. This was a vision that we had," Clawson told ESPN after the game.
Boston College finishes the season with a 6-6 record, but carrying a two-game losing streak into the bowl season after back-to-back home losses to Florida State and Wake Forest.
Wake cashes deserved ticket
The Demon Deacons have been setting the pace for the ACC most of the season, carrying an unbeaten record all the way into November and remaining one of the few ranked teams representing the league on the national stage. A loss at Clemson last week not only prevented them from clinching the division, but brought both the Tigers and NC State back into the mix as division title contenders going into the final weekend of the regular season.
Clemson's chances to win the Atlantic were erased, however, when NC State, which has the head-to-head win, defeated North Carolina on Friday night. If Wake Forest lost at Boston College, it would have fallen into a three-way tie with the Tigers and the Wolfpack, and ultimately a worse winning percentage against division opponents would've cost it a shot to play for the ACC Championship. But in beating Boston College and winning the division outright with a 7-1 record in conference play, those headaches are avoided.
QBs take center stage in Wake-Pitt matchup
Two of the top quarterbacks in the country get to square off with Hartman on one side and Kenny Pickett from Pitt on the other. Both players entered the weekend ranked in the top 10 in passing yards per game, the top 11 for passing touchdowns and in the top 14 in yards per attempt. So while the ACC Championship Game may not be carrying the same College Football Playoff implications as in recent years, the quality of offensive football that will be on display should be top notch.
Wake Forest and Pitt have played just once -- in 2018 -- and, sure enough, both of these veteran quarterbacks were around for the 34-13 Panthers win. Pickett threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns while Hartman, the team's starting quarterback at the beginning of the year, had just suffered a season-ending leg injury two games prior. The time that both Hartman and Pickett have spent around the ACC has made them among the most decorated signal-callers in the league's history, and now the conference season concludes with one of them leading their team to a crown.