This may be the end of the Sam Hartman Era for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.
A late-season lull cost Wake Forest's grander ambitions, losing four of its final five games, but head coach Dave Clawson has gotten the Deacons focused on lesser opponents than the Gasparilla Bowl and the Missouri Tigers.
Can he do it again and send off Hartman to bigger pastures with one final win? Find out in my college football picks and predictions for Wake Forest vs. Missouri below.
Wake Forest vs Missouri best odds
Wake Forest vs Missouri picks and predictions
Wake Forest never stopped scoring. At its worst, it scored only 21 points in back-to-back weeks at Louisville and at North Carolina State as October became November. One of those was a wildly-lampooned third-quarter meltdown with more turnovers than most folks will receive Christmas presents. The other was against one of the better defenses in the ACC.
Otherwise, the Deacons averaged 40 points per game, including 36.7 even as they lost two of their last three games.
Such are the luxuries of having Hartman under center. And with him, at least offensively, Wake Forest lost only running back Christian Turner to an opt-out, entering the transfer portal. Hartman can navigate losing his No. 2 running back.
Particularly given the defensive exodus Missouri needs to overcome. The headlines have focused on the Tigers losing leading receiver Dominic Lovett (56 catches for 846 yards and three touchdowns), but the greater concerns are on the other side of the ball.
Four defensive ends, two linebackers, two cornerbacks, and two safeties will not line up for Missouri on Friday, among them defensive end Isaiah McGuire, who started all 12 games for the Tigers; defensive end D.J. Coleman, who started the last three games; defensive end Tyrone Hopper, the team’s No. 2 tackler and leader in tackles for loss with 13.5; safety Martez Manuel, the team’s No. 4 tackler with 49 this season, including 10 for loss and 4.0 sacks in 12 starts; and safety Jalani Williams, with a meager 11 tackles but a notable lack of depth now with Manuel already out.
Reread that latter listing. Three defensive ends and two safeties will leave Missouri shorthanded against one of the most explosive and veteran quarterbacks in the country.
The Demon Deacons’ slow-mesh handoffs get laughed at a lot, but they are designed to put defensive ends in purgatory, over and over and over again. It takes the most disciplined of players to handle that long wait, the kind of player that usually is not found as a backup or third-stringer.
As Hartman & Co. find that rhythm and comfort, it will only embolden his downfield strikes, and with A.T. Perry and Donavon Greene both set to play, Wake Forest will have its best downfield options available.
If both these teams were whole and this was a normal game, a sportsbook might make it a pick’em... SP+ numbers suggest as much. With Missouri’s defense down so bad — and already the advantage belonged to Wake Forest’s offense, the No. 8 unit in the country, per SP+, going against the No. 25 defense — the Deacons’ edge becomes clear. The core of that edge will be offensively.
Wake Forest averaged 36.8 points this season, including 35.1 against nine Power Five opponents. Its two disappointing afternoons came against a defense on par with Missouri’s (Louisville ranks No. 26 defensively, per SP+) or significantly better (North Carolina State at No. 13). Against a shorthanded Tigers unit, is there any reason to think Hartman’s farewell will not include more than 30 points?
My best bet: Wake Forest team total Over 30.5 (-108 at FanDuel)
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Wake Forest vs Missouri spread analysis
That faith in Wake Forest’s offense then begs the question, can Missouri keep up, even without Lovett? As a 2-point underdog, keeping pace will effectively be the ask.
The Tigers broke 30 points against Power Five foes a total of... hold on, let’s check this math, yep, that didn’t happen this year. Missouri peaked with 29 points against Arkansas in the season finale.
Now, admittedly, the Demon Deacons’ defense is broadly lacking, but Auburn, Florida, and Vanderbilt all rank in the bottom half of the country defensively, and Missouri scored a total of 48 points against them for an average of 16 points per contest.
In other words, no... the Tigers cannot keep up with Wake Forest. This spread holding so tightly speaks of nothing but SEC bias.
Wake Forest vs Missouri Over/Under analysis
If Hartman finds a groove, he and the Deacons may do most of the heavy lifting in pursuing the total of 58.5. Three times this season, Wake Forest scored 45 points against a Power Five opponent.
That may not be likely against a defense as quality as Missouri’s, but those absences stand out. As does this being Hartman’s Deacons farewell.
That is not hyperbole. All season he was adamant this would be his last at Wake Forest, suggesting the NFL awaited him. The only thing that may have changed is he may now transfer instead, something bluntly acknowledged by Clawson this month, pointing out “life-changing money” could await Hartman with a transfer.
In-play microbetting trends for Wake Forest vs Missouri
The best betting sites for microbetting college football (with their odds powered by Simplebet):
Here are the next drive results when each team started at the 25-yard line (for all drives available to bet) for both the two-way betting market and the four-way betting market:
Offensive score Yes: 23/50 (46%)
Offensive score No: 27/50 (54%)
Punts: 17/50 (34%)
TDs: 19/50 (38%)
FG attempts: 4/50 (8%)
TOs: 10/50 (20%)
Wake Forest had two drives that started at the 25 that did not have betting markets.
Offensive score Yes: 13/45 (28.9%)
Offensive score No: 32/45 (71.1%)
Punts: 27/45 (60%)
TDs: 7/45 (15.6%)
FG attempts: 6/45 (13.3%)
TOs: 5/45 (11.1%)
Missouri had three drives that started at the 25 that did not have betting markets.
Wake Forest vs Missouri betting trend to know
The Over is 3-0 in Missouri’s last three games, clearing the total by an average of more than 15 points per game. Find more NCAA betting trends for Wake Forest vs. Missouri.
Wake Forest vs Missouri game info
|Location:||Raymond James Stadium, Tampa Bay, FL|
|Date:||Friday, December 23, 2022|
|Kickoff:||6:30 p.m. ET|
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