Wake Up To Reality – An Essay by Paul Lambeth

2006 will always be remembered as the year of the Deacon because the run Wake Forest has put together to obtain their Orange Bowl birth opposite Louisville is perhaps the most unlikely in college football history. And yet Jim Grobe’s bunch still wears the Rodney Dangerfield tag of No Respect, as the Deacs will go into Dolphin Stadium a solid ten-point underdog. This is with good reason since Louisville was within one decent half of football from playing for the national title. And IF Michael Bush hadn’t gone down in the first game of the year against Kentucky the Cards would be preparing for a trip to Tempe because with him I don’t see the Cards choking away their huge halftime lead against Rutgers.

Now Deacon fan, (to steal a line from that coffin nail concoction called Virginia Slims) you’ve come a long way baby, and perhaps this is the start of a golden age in Winston Salem. But this will be far and away the best team that Wake has faced this season. For all that Wake still wants to prove on the national BCS stage, and much as the whole league if not the country is behind the boys the Deacs are playing the Accidental Tourist against a program that has been building to this moment steadily since Bobby Petrino arrived. Louisville reminds me of the ‘Mory’ character from ‘Goodfellas’ in that the Cards have been ‘cultivating this caper for years’. Wake is more like ‘Spider’ and we all remember what happened to Michael Imperioli’s character in that Scorcese classic.

Now I’m not saying that Bobby Petrino will go Joe Pesci and tell Jim Grobe to dance his drink over to him while they are having dinner at Joe’s Stone Crab. But Wake is going up against a team that could well blow them out. Everyone knows about the firepower that the Cards have offensively. Brian Brohm threw for over 2,700 yards and sixteen scores. Harry Douglas and Mario Uttutria combined for 113 catches for a hair over 2,000 yards and a dozen scores. And Kolby Smith and George Stripling quietly combined for over 1,200 yards in filling in for Michael Bush. The real difference though will be a Cardinal defense that only allowed 17 or more points four times during the season. Of course the Deacs only allowed 17 or more three times and no one scored more than 27 all year, but Wake never faced an offense like this all year.

If Louisville comes out firing on all cylinders then it could get out of hand quick. However I don’t see that happening. Wake will find a way to control the clock and keep Louisville’s opportunities to a minimum, for at least a while. But eventually the strain of having to handle the variety that Louisville throws at their opponents and the maturity to find those people in the right places that Brian Brohm brings to the table will tell the tale. Riley Skinner has lots of moxie, and a heck of a career in front of him, but he would have to play at an extraordinary level to keep Wake Forest in this game. He will account himself well, but it will not be enough. The 27-6 loss to Virginia Tech showed just what speed does to Wake’s style of offense, and Frank Beamer didn’t have five weeks to prepare. Wake will be ready, and Jim Grobe will probably have some special tricks up his sleeve, but in the end the Deacs will ‘wake’ up to reality and midnight will strike on this Cinderella season.

In the end I see, Louisville 27 Wake 10.

Paul Lambeth