Wake Forest (4-7) at Vanderbilt (7-4)
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 30, 12:21 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Vanderbilt Stadium (40,550) -- Nashville, Tennessee. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: WF 3-3, Vandy 4-2. Away Record: WF 1-4, Vandy 3-2. Neutral Record: WF 0-0, Vandy 0-0. Conference Record: WF 2-6, Vandy 4-4. Series: Vandy leads, 9-6.
GAME NOTES: The Wake Forest Demon Deacons will close out their 2013 season on Friday afternoon in Nashville when they take on the Vanderbilt Commodores in a non-conference tilt.
It has been a trying season in Winston-Salem, as Wake Forest enters its final contest mired in a four-game losing streak. The Demon Deacons coughed up a 14- point lead against nationally-ranked Duke in last weekend's eventual 28-21 loss. Head coach Jim Grobe remains stuck on win No. 77 and in a tie with "Peahead" Walker for the most in program history.
Meanwhile, Vanderbilt will try for consecutive eight-win regular seasons for the first time since 1927-28. The Commodores are bowl eligible and enter the regular-season finale riding a three-game winning streak. They are coming off last weekend's 14-10 triumph at Tennessee.
Vandy holds a 9-6 lead in the all-time series, including a 55-21 triumph in last year's meeting.
Wake Forest's offense has been among the least efficient units in the Football Bowl Subdivision this season, ranking 114th in scoring (18.1 ppg) and 117th in total yardage (292.9 ypg). But the Deacs offense did manage to put a couple of touchdowns on the board against Duke after being held to a total of three points over their previous two contests. However, they were shut out after the 10:50 mark of the third quarter against the Blue Devils.
Senior quarterback Tanner Price ran for a touchdown and threw for one, marking the fourth time this season he has done that in a game. Price has accounted for 64 touchdowns in his career (52 passing, 11 rushing, one receiving), which is just one short of Riley Skinner's school record of 65.
The Demon Deacons' first score came courtesy of their defense, as true freshman Thomas Brown scored on a 59-yard fumble recovery and return. He was the first true freshman to score for Wake since Price did so against Duke in 2010. In fact, the Deacs defense was able to set the tone early one, as they forced the Blue Devils into four three-and-outs plus that fumble over their first five series. But as the game wore on, Duke wore on the Wake defense and eventually took the lead following back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter. Cornerback Merrill Noel finished with seven tackles (1.0 TFL) and a forced fumble before leaving the game with an ankle injury in the second quarter.
Vanderbilt does not boast an explosive offense by any means, but it is an efficient unit. Vandy tops the SEC in red-zone success, having scored on 41- of-47 such opportunities (87 percent), including 33 TDs (70 percent). Through 11 games last year, the Commodores came away with six points on only 18 of 41 red-zone possessions (44 percent). Sophomore running back Jerron Seymour tallied his 13th rushing TD on a four-yard carry in the first quarter, and he is one TD shy of matching the team record shared by Zac Stacy (2011) and Allama Matthews (1982).
The clinching touchdown was scored on a five-yard run by freshman Patton Robinette with 16 seconds to play in regulation, capping a 12-play, 92-yard drive. It was Vandy's longest touchdown drive in two years. Austyn Carta- Samuels was clutch on that decisive drive, completing 6-of-7 passes for 77 yards.
Commodores senior safety Kenny Ladler leads the SEC in both forced fumbles (five) and interceptions (five). In fact, he notched an interception and a forced fumble against Tennessee, and has accumulated four picks and five forced fumbles over his last six games. Vandy's defense held Tennessee to its lowest point total in the head-to-head series since 1968. And despite a depleted secondary, the Commodores limited the Vols to just 53 passing yards, the lowest total by an SEC opponent in the James Franklin Era.
Senior linebacker Chase Garnham was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week for his role in the win. Garnham, a defensive co-captain, had a season-high seven solo tackles and finished with a team-best 10 stops in all. Redshirt freshman cornerback Paris Head was thrust into action when both starting corners went to the sidelines. Head intercepted two passes, one of which came on a fake field goal attempt in the fourth quarter.
These teams have seen their respective seasons veer in opposite directions. The Demon Deacons have only pride to play for here, but they are simply running into a more talented Vanderbilt team that is playing at home.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Vanderbilt 34, Wake Forest 14
11/27 11:09:55 ET