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Can Wake Forest make the College Football Playoff?

The Demon Deacons are undefeated in the ACC, but haven’t exactly tested themselves outside of the league.

Sam Hartman of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons leaves the field after a win against the Duke Blue Devils at Truist Field on October 30, 2021 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Wake Forest won 45-7. Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The curious case of the Wake Forest Demon Deacons will be an interesting test of the College Football Playoff selection committee. The inaugural CFP rankings arrived on Tuesday and Wake Forest is ranked No. 9.

The Deacs are undefeated at 8-0, and play in the ACC, a Power Five conference. Those are two standards that are often enough to be considered to have a shot at the Playoff. With four slots available, running out clean in your league is often enough to merit consideration.

So why doesn’t any preview anywhere have Wake as even a blip in the top six teams in the country? Because they, in the words of the college football internet, ain’t played nobody. They have yet to face a single team in the current Top 25, or even one receiving votes in the AP Poll anywhere.

Wake’s three out-of-conference games are against Old Dominion, Norfolk State, and Army (whom they scored 70 points on ... but also conceded 56). The rest of their opponents in the ACC Atlantic Division are Florida State (criminally bad, but still 37th in SP+), Virginia (35th), Louisville (41st), Syracuse (49th), and Duke (91st).

They’re not dominating their opponents on the scoreboard, with two ACC wins by just a field goal. And they also aren’t consistently beating expectations either as they’re just 4-4 against the spread. And this week on the road against North Carolina, they’re actually a 2.5 point underdog at DraftKings Sportsbook.

If Wake can get past the Tar Heels, normally a matchup at Clemson would be enough to get them in the conversation. But the Tigers are pretty bad this season too, and what is normally a strength of schedule opportunity just isn’t in a very-down ACC this season.

There are plenty of reason why the current College Football Playoff system can be considered unfair. But a team in a power conference being left out because of their lack of schedule is part of the problem.

When you’re (somewhat justifiably) leaving undefeated teams out of the Playoff, well, it’s probably time to expand the field.