Notre Dame stays at home for the third weekend in a row to protect it’s #3 ranking in the College Football Playoff Rankings. Fresh off a beat down of another top 15 opponent, the Irish schedule lightens a bit with unranked Wake Forest (5-3). Will the Irish continue their winning ways and stay in the coveted Top 4 spots in the CFP rankings? Let’s dive in and find out.
What Concerns Me This Week
Brandon Wimbush’s Ankle. Brian Kelly has said that Wimbush hasn’t been limited at all this week, but after watching him in the 4th quarter last week I am still concerned about that ankle. Notre Dame needs Wimbush’s ankle 100% down the stretch to have a chance at capping off this regular season with four more wins to reach the playoffs. The Irish might not need Wimbush to run much this week but they do need that in future weeks so they need to protect him from some unnecessary hits this week. Josh Adams also needs Wimbush’s running threat in order to keep opening up those monster holes that #33Trucking is driving through too.
Wake Forest’s Knowledge of MIke Elko. Wake Forest has some injuries this week that make them much less formidable than they could have been, but their knowledge of Mike Elko’s defense is still worrisome. Dave Clawson knows how Elko’s defense is built and how he calls a game from working with him for so long. It won’t be enough to make this a tough game, but it could be just enough to take away from style points this weekend.
The Health of Running Backs Not Named Josh Adams. Josh Adams set a career high in carries last week against NC State in part because he’s just that good and in part because Notre Dame’s other backs can’t stay healthy. We got to see the return of Dexter Williams, but he didn’t play that much. Tony Jones Jr got tripped up with a hip injury though after nursing a balking ankle for weeks. This is the kind of week that it would be nice to give Adams a bit of a lighter load to rest up just a bit.
The Current Spread. Seriously, what does Vegas know that we don’t? The 14 point spread really jumps out to me. Notre Dame has been blowing teams out and just beat NC State and USC by way more than 14. Wake Forest isn’t as good as either team and they lost their top wide receiver for the year last week. It’s a very, very tempting line actually, but it’s also a bit curious.
What Doesn’t Concern Me This Week
Wake’s Run Defense. The Demon Deacons run defense is ranked 89th in the country and Notre Dame just shredded the “vaunted” NC State run defense for 318 yards. The Notre Dame offensive line will eat tomorrow and Josh Adams will put up more Heisman caliber numbers. Even if Wake Forest decides that they won’t respect the passing game or Wimbush’s running threat because of his ankle, I still think Notre Dame will be able to run the ball with regular success on the Wake Forest defense.
Wake’s Passing Game. Another week, another efficient quarterback for the Notre Dame defense. Last week NC State was content with trying to dink and unk down the field but it didn’t really get them anywhere. They scored 7 points on offense. Wake Forest could try the same approach now that Greg Dortch is out for the season. If they do, Notre Dame corners will have an even better game this week than they did last. Julian Love or Nick Watkins will jump a shout route for a pick if that is Wake’s plan.
A Let Down Performance. In other years I would be worried about a let down, but not this year. This team seems locked in and focused. While us fans obsessed over the the CFP Rankings on Tuesday, Notre Dame’s captains were doing things like mentoring kids and coaching kids flag football. Drue Tranquill said this team would be focused on punishing every opponent for the rest of the year after the loss to Georgia and he has been proven right.
Players To Watch
- Josh Adams – Let’s get him another 150+ yards and a couple TDs with one coming from his customary 70+ yard range and get him on the sidelines with a good lead.
- Kevin Stepherson – If I keep writing it, it will eventually happen right? This is the week we see Wimbush and Stepherson connect on a deep ball. Stepherson could go over 100 yards tomorrow.
- Brandon Wimbush – Will the ankle force Wimbush to trust his arm a little more than his legs this week? This is a good time to see him take another step forward as a passer.
- Tevon Coney – He has been balling out the last couple weeks. Look for him to have another good weekend as he continues to lead the Irish in tackles.
- Dexter Williams – He saw some limited action last week. It would be nice to see a larger load for Dexter this week. It would be even nicer to see him get into the open field and reach the endzone for the first time since early in the season.
- Julian Okwara – Have a feeling the youngster gets a sack or two this weekend against one of his home-state programs.
- Cole Kmet – If Alize Mack is unable to go this weekend because of his concussion, look for the frosh to see more playing time.
How’d I Do Last Week
Should have stuck with my pre-season prediction last week. In August I predicted Notre Dame in a 34-17 win but adjusted to 34-24 before the game. Notre Dame ended up winning 35–14. Not too bad of a prediction back in August though huh? I also didn’t see Notre Dame running for 300+ on NC State. I thought they would be able to run some, but didn’t expect 300+.
I can’t fight this feeling any longer. I have been a bit conservative in my predictions the last few weeks, but I just can’t do it anymore. I am all in with this team. I had been holding back because I just didn’t want to get my hopes up too prematurely, but that ship has sailed. My chips are all on the table at this point.
This game shouldn’t be close. Wake Forest comes in with a decent record at 5-3 but it’s a bit misleading considering three of those wins were to Utah State, Presbyterian, and Appalachian State. The Deacons are also just one of two teams this year to lose to Florida State. I think we’ll see Notre Dame take a very business like approach to this game this week and take care of business. We’ll see more of Ian Book handing off to Deon McIntosh in the 4th quarter and the Irish will maintain the profile they have built on their way to their #3 ranking.
Prediction: Notre Dame 42, Wake Forest 13
Pre-Season Prediction: Notre Dame 34-24
Keeping Me Honest, Yearly Results
|Game||Pre-Season||Game Week||Actual Outcome|
|Week 12: Stanford||ND 24-21||ND 31-17|
|Week 11: Navy||ND 49-17||ND 45-24||ND 24-17|
|Week 10: Miami||ND 31-27||ND 38-24||UM 41-8|
|Week 9: Wake Forest||ND 34-24||ND 42-13||ND 48-37|
|Week 8: #14 NC State||ND 34-17||ND 34-24||ND 35-14|
|Week 7: #21 USC||USC 38-24||ND 34-31||ND 49-14|
|Week 6: North Carolina||ND 31-21||ND 41-17||ND 33-10|
|Week 5: Miami OH||ND 42-17||ND 49-13||ND 52-17|
|Week 4: #16 Michigan State||ND 24-13||ND 30-28||ND 38-18|
|Week 3: Boston College||ND 35-10||ND 35-10||ND 49-20|
|Week 2: #3 Georgia||UGA 29-27||UGA 29-27||UGA 20-19|
|Week 1: Temple||ND 31-21||ND 31-21||ND 49-16|