WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — No. 19 Wake Forest hasn't been this hot to start a season in 75 years.
The Demon Deacons (5-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) play their first game as a nationally ranked team since 2008 on Saturday night, looking to extend one of the best starts in school history in a visit from Louisville (3-2, 1-1).
"I tell the players all the time, (the ranking is) an affirmation that they're doing things right and they need to continue to do those things," coach Dave Clawson said. "That is a byproduct of what we're doing. That's not where we are. That's other people's opinions of where we are."
In five previous seasons under Clawson, the Demon Deacons are 0-5 when coming off a week off. A similar stumble could cost them that national ranking, spoil their best start since 2006 and bring an end to their seven-game winning streak — tied for the longest in school history.
That mark was set by the 1944 team that opened 7-0 for the best start in school history. Its last team to start a season with five straight wins wound up winning an improbable ACC title in 2006 and earning a spot in the Orange Bowl — where the opponent was Louisville.
Of course, this is an entirely different Cardinals program than the one that claimed a 24-13 victory in Miami. Scott Satterfield, a native North Carolinian who previously played and coached 90 miles away at Appalachian State, is in his first season rebuilding a Louisville program that went 2-10 in 2018.
The Cardinals rolled up 664 total yards in a 41-39 victory over Boston College last week — their first ACC win since the 2017 finale.
"We're just trying to be consistent," Satterfield said. "These guys are now they're seeing the fruit of that labor and that hard work. We have to continue to do that. We're nowhere near where we need to be."
Some things to know about the Louisville-Wake Forest game:
Wake Forest QB Jamie Newman might be having the best season of any ACC quarterback — including Clemson's Trevor Lawrence. Newman leads the conference with averages of 304.2 yards passing, a 69.6 completion percentage, 356.6 total yards and a passer rating of 169.62. Two of his receivers — Sage Surratt (103 ypg) and Scotty Washington (94) — rank in the top three in the league in yards receiving per game and they share the conference lead with six TDs apiece.
Louisville seems to have found its groove on offense with redshirt sophomore QB Micale Cunningham. In his three starts, the Cardinals are averaging 496 total yards and 34.3 points after averaging 467 yards in the first two games — a total that was skewed by a 42-0 rout of Eastern Kentucky of the FCS.
There aren't many interceptions for either team in Louisville's games. No ACC team has thrown fewer picks than the Cardinals, who have two in five games. On defense, though, Louisville DB Anthony Johnson broke an unwanted streak last week against Boston College with his fourth-quarter interception. That snapped a string of 142 consecutive passes by the Cardinals' opponents without throwing a pick. Louisville is tied for last in the Bowl Subdivision with that single interception.
TOP 25 TIDBITS
This marks the Demon Deacons' first game as a Top 25 team since Oct. 18, 2008, when they were ranked 21st but lost 26-0 at Maryland. Their last victory as a ranked team came nine nights earlier in a 12-7 win over Clemson, after which the Tigers ousted coach Tommy Bowden and selected their relatively unknown receivers coach as his interim replacement — Dabo Swinney.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25