Notre Dame Football Primer: Irish host Wake Forest on Senior Day

It is Senior Day in South Bend as the Fighting Irish host Sam Hartman’s former program, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

After a horrendous offensive performance on the road at Clemson, the Fighting Irish suffered their third loss of the season. A team once predicted to compete in the College Football Playoffs is now looking at a potential 7-5 season if Coach Freeman cannot refocus the program. If Notre Dame wants off-season momentum similar to last year, they must finish with three straight victories, including a bowl win, and it starts Saturday with Wake Forest.

Essential Game Info:

  • Game Time: Saturday, November 18th at 3:30 PM ET on NBC
  • Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
  • Matchup History: Notre Dame is 5-0 all-time against Wake Forest (Last Meeting 2018: Irish won 56 to 27)
  • Current Odds: Notre Dame -24.5

Wake Forest Details

  • Conference: ACC
  • Head Coach: Dave Clawson
  • 2023 Record: 4-6 (1-6)
  • 2022 Record: 8-5 (3-5)

Weather Forecast

The current GameDay forecast shows a 5% chance of rain, with a high of 54 degrees and a low of 37.

Wake Forest Storylines:

The Wake Forest Demon Deacons will face the Irish for the first time since 2018. Ironically, Sam Hartman was a true freshman quarterback facing Ian Book (Notre Dame’s all-time wins leader), making his first start for the Fighting Irish. Both teams have not had the seasons they wanted to this fall. However, Wake Forest may have added motivation in this matchup after Hartman left the program for Notre Dame.

Dave Clawson made a quarterback change in their most recent game against NC State. Michael Kern replaced Mitch Griffis under center. It is possible that the Irish might see some action from each in this showdown. Griffis is 124 for 207 (60%) this season for 1,553 passing yards, with 9 passing touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and 35 sacks taken. Kern is 28 for 48 (58%) for 303 passing yards, with 1 passing score, 1 interception, and 5 sacks taken.

Notre Dame Storylines:

Jack Swarbrick let down the Notre Dame Football program. Fans should not be mad at Gerad Parker. He came to South Bend to be the Tight Ends Coach and was asked to become the offensive coordinator out of necessity. No one can convince me that Coach Parker was the right guy for the position, and no matter what the athletic department states, money is always a factor when getting the right coach.

When Notre Dame Football could not find an offensive coordinator, it was reminiscent of when small market major league baseball organizations must promote minor league players because they cannot afford the salary of all-star level players.

Not having the right offensive coordinator has not been the only dilemma this season. Undoubtedly, Coach Parker has lacked any creativity all year, but the Irish have been without Kaleb Smith (transfer), Deion Colzie, Jayden Thomas, Matt Salerno, and Mitchell Evans.

Even the Irish Offense’s strengths, including Sam Hartman and the offensive line, have yet to live up to expectations. If you want to see how the Notre Dame Offensive Line should be playing, just turn on a Michigan Football game. There is no reason the Irish front should not be playing at that level when they recruit along the offensive line better than any program in the nation.

Head-to-Head Matchups:

Notre Dame Offense vs. Wake Forest Defense: The Fighting Irish Offense averages 418 yards per game, while the Demon Deacons allow 372 yards per contest. In their last matchup, the Fighting Irish struggled to muster any sort of offense through the air with only 146 passing yards facing Clemson, but they were able to tally 183 yards on the ground.

I expect the Irish Offense to be run-heavy on Saturday with all the injuries in the wide receiver room and lack of creativity by Coach Parker. This matchup is a tie.

Advantage: Tie

Wake Forest Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: Wake Forest averages 332 yards per matchup, while the Notre Dame Defense allows 280 per game. Dave Clawson’s group only scored 6 points at home against NC State, and the Irish have an even better defense.

Al Golden’s group has the advantage in this matchup, especially playing in South Bend.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Special Teams: Spencer Shrader is 13 for 18, with his longest conversion at 54 yards. At the same time, Wake Forest’s Matthew Dennis is 14 for 19, with his longest conversion at 44 yards.

Advantage: Tie

My Prediction:

Although the Notre Dame Offense has struggled this season, Notre Dame will be able to put up points this weekend. The Fighting Irish play great at home, and the Irish Defense should set up the offense with favorable field position this weekend.

I expect Audric Estime and the Irish running backs to lead the way on the ground in South Bend. Yes, the Demon Deacons will be motivated to beat Sam Hartman’s new team, but it will not matter. Marcus Freeman will not lose this contest on Senior Day in South Bend.

I have the Fighting Irish winning by 18 points, and the following week, they will fly to Palo Alto seeking their 9th victory of the season.

Prediction: Notre Dame 35, Wake Forest 17

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  1. One of the worst constructed schedules I can ever remember. 2 bye weeks late in the year. Absolutely no juice for these last two games.

  2. Yes, I have never liked Swarbrick. He schedules NotreDame out of the playoffs every year. I am sorry scheduling opening on the road against Ohio State, Texas A and M is not smart scheduling. See Michigan. Not having 7 or 8 home games. Big mistake. Neutral site games at the expense of a home game big mistake.Then his backing of Kelly. Big mistake. The Ludwig buy botched. etc. Let’s hope the next guy is a lot better.

  3. I feel your pain Damian. It’s hurts me even more because I grew up seeing NotreDame win 4 national championships. Started watching in 1964 Ara’s first year. I do believe in Freeman. However, I do feel it was a big risk promoting Parker to offensive coordinator with no experience. I am interested to see what changes he makes this off season. I also agree with Todd Blackledge when he says NotreDame’s defense and special teams over the last 7 or 8 seasons have been good enough to win the national championship. What hasn’t been good enough is their offenses.

  4. Interesting take on Parker. And yes, that’s true. Swarbick, and the PTBs at ND, decided to go on the cheap, like they always do with assistants it seems, and the team is paying for it. ND is willing to throw around some dough for the head coach, but when it comes to assistants they are just meh. How many assistants have we lost to lateral moves because they are not willing to dish out any money. I’m coming to believe that is a main reason we are not competing with the elites. We’re getting good recruits. Good enough to at least be competitive with the elites. But if you don’t have really good assistant coaches, they are not going to develop as they should. I’ve heard some people argue that assistant coaches are the real unsung heroes on good football programs. We needed a really good OC this year and ND went cheap and we see the result. Another disappointing let down of a season.

    Honestly I’m having a hard time caring about how ND does these last 3 days. After coming in with such high hopes, this season is a major let down and it just seems like a meaningless season now. I am so sick and tired of ‘maybe next year.’ Ever since Charlie Weis’ first year I’ve been waiting for ‘maybe next year’ and I’m done. I noted before I no longer believe ND is ever going to win another NC. It’s not the players’ faults, it’s not even really Freeman’s fault. It’s the PTBs at ND that are responsible because they refuse to invest properly in the program by hiring and retaining assistants that can make a difference.

    Some (we know who they are) will say watch other games that are more “exciting” like SEC games, or whatever the case may be. But I don’t give a shit about other teams, pardon my language. I’m a ND Fighting Irish fan. I couldn’t care less what other teams might be playing and how ‘exciting’ some other game might be. With apologies to the rest of CFB, it’s ND or bust for me.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly about ND’s miserly bungling of the assistant coaches. And yes, this is on the PTBs. ND’s lack of depth is also on the PTBs. If they want to be an Ivy League type academic school they need to give up their delusions of winning another football title.

    2. Good post, Damian. If only the sports administration cared as much about winning as the fans. I also point the finger at the big donors who obviously didn’t emphasize how Big Daddy Swarbucks most important role was to pay enough to assist ND in winning. Stadium additions and big scoreboards aren’t enough. What an inexperienced head coach needs is experienced co-ordinators and position coaches.

      “Jack Swarbrick let down the Notre Dame Football program. Fans should not be mad at Gerad Parker. He came to South Bend to be the Tight Ends Coach and was asked to become the offensive coordinator out of necessity.” Exactomundo, MIchael Owens

      Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, Swarbucks. Good riddance! here’s hoping his replacement will spend $ on what’s needed to join the elite.

    3. Notre Dame will win there last two games in blowout fashion. The offense will look great in doing so much like it did against the first four opponents this year. Unfortunately this will buy Parker one more season as the OC and we will get much of the same results next season. When you shop for assistant coaches at the Dollar store you get a poor product. Here’s hoping Swarbrick gets the fuck out of town soon and the new AD has a better understanding that high level experienced assistant coaches are every bit as important as the head coach. Especially an inexperienced HC like Freeman.

      1. I wonder will a new AD even make a difference. I wonder how much shopping for assistance at a discount is Swarbick and how much of it is the true PTBs at ND that pay the bills. I suppose one way we’ll find out is if we get a new AD and they’re still trying to get assistants at bargain prices, then we’ll know it’s more likely that ND isn’t willing to fork over cash for good assistants. In that case it probably wouldn’t matter who the AD is.

        I’m just wondering are we dumping on the right person. Is it really Swarbick that stands in the way, or is it someone higher up? It could be. But I also think it’s possible it goes even higher than Jack.

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