HOUSTON – Jamie Newman cemented himself as the unquestioned No. 1 quarterback for Wake Forest in a thrilling season-opening victory over Utah State last week, and now the junior leads the Demon Deacons on the road aiming for another non-conference victory Friday at Rice. Newman, named the starter after directing Wake Forest to victories in three of the final four games a season ago, passed for 401 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-35 victory in his fifth career start.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, CBS Sports Network. LINE: Wake Forest -18
The Demon Deacons defense bent throughout the opener, giving up 596 yards of total offense, but limited Utah State to five first downs on the final four possessions and picked off three passes - half the number of interceptions Wake Forest recorded all last season. “We really just focus on our defense getting stops,” Wake Forest senior linebacker Justin Strnad, whose interception in the final seconds sealed the victory, told reporters afterward. “We had the stops we needed to get our offense the ball back.” The Owls defense impressed in a season-opening 14-7 loss to Army last week, allowing just 231 yards on the ground against a team that ranked second in the nation in rushing a season ago. Senior tailback Nahshon Ellerbe scored the lone touchdown for Rice, which missed two field goals and saw a last-minute drive fall short.
ABOUT WAKE FOREST (1-0)
Newman was named ACC quarterback of the week after completing 34-of-47 passes and had plenty of receivers who contributed, including sophomore Sage Surratt, who caught seven passes for 158 yards and a touchdown to win conference receiver of the week. Senior Cade Carney rushed 25 times for 105 yards and Newman added 36 yards on the ground, as the Demon Deacons finished with 579 yards of total offense. Freshman safety Trey Rucker recorded five tackles and intercepted a pass in the end zone.
ABOUT RICE (0-1)
Ellerbe, who missed most of last season with a knee injury, rushed nine times for 103 yards - 54 coming on his touchdown - and fifth-year senior Aston Walter added 72 yards on 18 carries as the Owls averaged six yards per carry. Redshirt freshman quarterback Wiley Green only attempted 14 passes, completing seven for 62 yards. Sophomore linebacker Antonio Montero recorded a career-best 11 tackles in the loss.
1. Wake Forest was penalized just once for 15 yards in the season opener.
2. Demon Deacons senior WR Steven Claude, who entered the season with seven career receptions, caught six passes for 70 yards against Utah State.
3. Wake Forest fifth-year senior WR Kendall Hinton became the first player in program history to score a touchdown in five different seasons, catching the game-winning touchdown with 1:08 to play.
PREDICTION: Wake Forest 36, Rice 14