Louisville's offense has been relatively unstoppable this year but they have been susceptible to being slowed down to the point that Lamar Jackson becomes the savior as opposed to the star. Wake Forest has slowed down enough offenses this year that I don't see why they couldn't do the same to Louisville. Wake has NFL talent at all three levels of their defense and they're experienced in some important spots. If Wake can have the same success that they had against Syracuse and FSU, Louisville could be in for a close game.
The defensive line for Wake is led by Duke Ejiofor who is one of the best defensive linemen in the ACC. Ejiofor is second in the conference in tackles for loss and sacks and in my opinion, he plays the run and the pass as well as anyone other than DeMarcus Walker. The rest of the line won't likely make a lot of plays that show up on the stat sheet, but they do such a good job of eating up blocks and keeping their linebackers clean.
One could make the argument that Marquel Lee is the most impactful linebacker in the ACC. Lee makes a ridiculous amount of plays around and behind the line of scrimmage. He can blitz and get to the quarterback as well as chasing down running backs with great angle work. Louisville did a great job of using misdirection to keep Boston College's really good group of linebackers off balance, but I'm not so sure they will have that same success this week. Wake's linebackers are more disciplined and I'm not sure that Bobby Petrino will be able to target over-aggression like he was able to do last week. Thomas Brown is a good player at the Rover position for Wake and I think that these two are as solid of a combo as you could want in the ACC. They both run well and make a lot of plays.
The secondary for the Deacs is what sets them a part from schools like Virginia, Duke, and BC in my opinion. Those three schools had good groups at two levels of the defense while Wake is strong in all three. Brad Watson is one of the best cornerbacks in the conference and he is experienced enough that you can leave him on an island and feel comfortable. Ryan Janvion has been at free safety for Wake since the Orange Bowl in 2006 so you know what you're getting out of him. He can really be a helper in run support which allows the front seven to be more aggressive. Jessie Bates has been a stud for the Deacs this year with 5 picks on the season including a game winning pick-6 last week. Essang Bassey is the player that Louisville will target as he is the lone true freshman on the defense. Bassey doesn't have great size, so UofL has an automatic advantage. I expect them to exploit that advantage if they need to make a play.
KEY PLAYERS: DE Duke Ejiofor, MLB Marquel Lee, CB Brad Watson, SS Jessie Bates