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)
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.
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.
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.
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