Finished Bank of America Stadium
BELK BOWL STORYLINES
1. Jimbo Fisher won't be on the sidelines when Texas A&M faces Wake Forest in the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, N.C. on Dec. 29, but the former Florida State coach should have some insight on an opponent his teams beat seven of eight times. Jeff Banks will take over on an interim basis for Kevin Sumlin, who was fired on Nov. 26 after going 51-26 in six years at the helm. Fisher went 83-23 in eight seasons with the Seminoles before accepting a 10-year, $75 million deal from the Aggies on Dec. 4.
2. The Demon Deacons qualified for a bowl game in consecutive seasons for the first time since a three-year run from 2006-08. Wake Forest posted seven regular-season victories for the first time in nine years, defeating five bowl-eligible teams along the way to tie the school record set in 2008. The Demon Deacons are 7-4 all-time in bowl games but 0-2 against SEC opponents in the postseason.
3. Wide receiver Christian Kirk (58 catches for 730 yards and seven touchdowns) could be playing his final game for Texas A&M. The 5-11 junior is considered an early-round pick if he declares for the NFL Draft and has recorded at least two catches in 38 straight games - the longest active such streak in the country. Kirk is also the only player in the SEC with a TD via punt return and kickoff return in 2017.
TV: 1 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Wake Forest -3
ABOUT WAKE FOREST (7-5, 4-4 ACC): John Wolford was named to the All-ACC second-team after leading the conference in passing efficiency (157.5) while setting school season records for total offense (3,407 yards) and total touchdowns (35). Once freshman phenom receiver Greg Dortch (team-high totals of 53 catches for 722 yards and nine receiving TDs) was lost for the season on Oct. 28, junior Tabari Hines stepped up with 27 receptions for 375 yards and four scores over the team's final four games. Senior defensive end Duke Ejiofor, who ranks third in school history with 23.5 career sacks, finished tied for fifth in the ACC in tackles for loss (14.5) - part of the school-record 98 TFLs that Wake Forest recorded this season.
ABOUT TEXAS A&M (7-5, 4-4 SEC): Kirk (23 career receiving touchdowns and 2,667 receiving yards), who is the active FBS career leader in punt return average at 22.8 yards, needs two more TDs and 122 more receiving yards to move into sole possession of third place in both categories in school history. Free safety Armani Watts joined Kirk on the coaches' All-SEC first team and is the only player in FBS with at least 9.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions, two blocked kicks, one forced fumble and one recovered fumble. The Aggies announced the indefinite suspension of defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson, who started 11 of 12 games this season, after he was arrested on three felony charges following an incident involving a firearm in an apartment complex on Dec. 10.
PREDICTION: Wake Forest 38, Texas A&M 27
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