Notre Dame v. Wake Forest ’18 Game Primer

Wake Forest WR Greg Dortch

The Fighting Irish are coming off another single digit win against the Vanderbilt Commodores. Notre Dame is hitting the road for the first time this season to play a familiar opponent in the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Last fall, the Demon Deacons gave the Irish all they could handle. As the Irish struggle to find an identity on offense they will be tested in Winston Salem, North Carolina for a noon kickoff.

Essential Game Info:

  • Game Time: September 22nd at 12:00 p.m. ET on ABC
  • Location: BB & T Field, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
  • Matchup: Notre Dame leads the all-time series 4-0 (Last Meeting: Notre Dame beat Wake Forest 48-37 last season)
  • Current Odds: Notre Dame -8.0

South Bend Weather Forecast

The current forecast for GameDay shows a 50 % chance of rain with a high of 85 degrees and a low of 66. Below is a look at the next 5 days leading up to the game (this will automatically update to be the most recent 5 days throughout the week).

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Wake Forest Details:

  • Conference: ACC
  • Head Coach: Dave Clawson
  • 2018 Record: 2-1
  • 2017 Record: 8-5

Wake Forest Storylines:

Familiar Opponent. This will be the 5th meeting between the Demon Deacons and Fighting Irish in the last 8 seasons. Both programs are quite familiar with one another, and the Demon Deacons are hungry for their first win in this series

Last fall, Wake Forest took Notre Dame down to the wire and exposed weaknesses on the defensive side of the ball. However, Wake Forest has replaced John Wolford who had 28 completions, 331 yards passing yards, and 2 passing touchdowns against the Irish a season ago. Wolford also ran for 59 yards and a touchdown last year on Mike Elko’s Defense.

Inexperienced Quarterback for Demon Deacons. Replacing John Wolford from a season ago is true freshman quarterback Sam Hartman. The 6’1” Quarterback is 68 for 123 on the season (55.3%), with 6 passing touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. He is a dual threat with 193 rushing yards and 1 rushing touchdown.

The Key matchup for this game will be the Irish Defense against Sam Hartman. The major advantage is with the experienced Notre Dame Defense. But a season ago the Wake Forest Offense put up 38 points at Notre Dame Stadium. If the Irish Defense is on the field the whole game, Sam Hartman’s running ability and up-tempo offense of Wake Forest could wear the Irish down.

Key Players for the Demon Deacons. The running backs are headlined by Cade Carney and Matt Colburn. Carney has 53 carries for 300 yards and 2 touchdowns. Colburn has 48 attempts for 196 yards and a single touchdown. Wake Forest’s two main receiving targets are Greg Dortch and Sage Surratt. Dortch is leading the way with 28 receptions, 446 yards, and1 touchdown. While Surratt has 18 receptions, 263 yards, and 1 touchdown.

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Home Field Advantage? Notre Dame will be heading on the road for the first time all season and will not have the support of crowd noise. Nevertheless, BB & T Field is not exactly a hostile environment like the Irish are accustomed to facing. The Stadium only holds 31,500 fans (closer to 40,000 with standing room) and expect a decent contingent of Notre Dame fans. Although it’s not a hostile environment, the level of difficulty will be higher than previous weeks.

Notre Dame Storylines:

Running Game improved tremendously. The Fighting Irish tallied 245 yards and 5.1 yards per carry against an SEC Defense last weekend. This was a major improvement from the 2.9 yards per carry against Ball State. Tony Jones Jr. had an outstanding performance with 17 carries and 118 yards.

Brandon Wimbush was second on the team with 19 carries for 84 yards, a running attack that was clearly missing against Ball State. Jafar Armstrong continued to improve as he makes the transition from wide receiver to running back, Armstrong had 46 yards.

Offense struggles in red zone. The running game clearly improved last weekend, while Ian Book and Brandon Wimbush combined for 16 of 26 in the passing game. The main issue was red zone execution. Last season, the Irish scored on almost every single red zone trip, but this past weekend Notre Dame really struggled.

Once the Notre Dame Offense got into Vanderbilt territory they seemed to slow down. Yoon attempted 4 field goals and made three. Settling for field goals almost cost the Irish the game and will not help the Irish beat better competition moving forward.

Irish Defense gives up 326 yards through air. For the 3rd straight week the Fighting Irish Defense was matched up against a veteran quarterback. Kyle Shurmur torched the Notre Dame Secondary for 26 completions and 326 yards. Clark Lea was clearly playing bend but don’t break defense for most of the game, but 326 is still not good for the defense.

Both the Irish Secondary and pass rush need to take responsibility. Notre Dame has only had a total of 2 sacks the last two weeks. Even though the Irish Defensive Line has been held constantly the past two weeks, there is still no excuse for that production.

Notre Dame will be matched up against true freshman quarterback, Sam Hartman. He already has 5 interceptions on the season, and the Irish Defense has already forced 7 turnovers this year. The turnover battle will decide this game.

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Head to Head Matchups:

Notre Dame Offense vs. Wake Forest Defense. The Fighting Irish Offense has averaged 23.3 points per game. Last week alone, the Demon Deacons gave up 41 points to Boston College. The Boston College Eagles put up 220 yards rushing and 304 passing yards on the Wake Forest Defense.

If there is any game that Notre Dame will have an offensive explosion, it would be this one. It appeared last week they showed tremendous improvements in the running game with 245 yards on the ground. Although Notre Dame hasn’t put up much points on offense, I’m giving them the slight edge in this week 4 matchup.

Advantage Notre Dame

Wake Forest Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense. The Wake Forest Offense has been dynamic through the first 3 weeks, it’s the defense who lost the Demon Deacons the game last week. Sam Hartman had 214 yards passing and 65 rushing yards against the Boston College Eagles but threw for 2 interceptions.

The dual threat of Sam Hartman and the up-tempo style that the Demon Deacons play with can cause trouble for the Irish Defense. I’m interested to see how they play on the road as well. Nevertheless, Hartman has 5 interceptions in 3 games and is a true freshman; I give the advantage to the veteran Notre Dame Defense.

Advantage Notre Dame

Special Teams. The Notre Dame Special Teams showed tremendous improvement last weekend. Every single kickoff was in-bounds, and most were touchbacks. Tyler Newsom averaged 59.6 yards on his punts and came up with a clutch punt at the end of the game that totaled 63 yards. Justin Yoon also went 3 for 4 on field goals.

Wake Forest is headlined by punter Dom Maggio who averaged 44.3 yards per punt, and kicker Nick Sciba who is 6 for 7 on the season. For the first time this season I give the Irish the advantage in the special teams department.

Advantage Irish

My Prediction:

Well I just gave Notre Dame the advantage in every single category, even though they haven’t beaten an opponent by more than 8 points all season. The Irish Offense looked good on the ground last week. The only problem was putting up touchdowns on the board instead of field goals. I believe this week they will be more efficient in the red zone and score the most points they have all season.

Wake Forest has a true freshman quarterback that has struggled throwing interceptions. But most quarterbacks seem to have their best games against the Irish. His dual threat will present many challenges for the Irish. But I think the Notre Dame Defense will force 2/3 turnovers in this matchup.

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Yes, Notre Dame is the better team all around the board. However, this game is being played on the road and right before a monumental matchup against Stanford. If the Irish are looking ahead, they will lose this game. I have the Irish winning by a touchdown this weekend.

 Prediction: Notre Dame 31 Wake Forest 24

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17 comments

  1. david 1 year ago

    Wake Forest is the smallest school in the FBS. Less than 5000 students, just over half the size of ND.
    And not surprising for NC, it’s a basketball school.
    BB&T is their home field..capacity of 32,000.
    They haven’t been ranked in any poll in 10 years.

    And in the face of this formidable opponent program, the mighty Irish of ND — speciously ranked #8 in the nation —- are favored by one TD.

    No need to wait for Saturday. The outcome hardly matters.
    No offense meant to Wake Forest, but ND fans should just be livid that ND football has become this.

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    1. WillyT 1 year ago

      The misuse of “fewer” and “less” is appalling. Let’s review: “fewer” is to compare items that can be counted (Vandy scored fewer points than ND). “Less” is used to compare or describe something that cannot be counted (I will experience less anxiety watching the Irish this Saturday). Nerd in the house!

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      1. david 1 year ago

        ND football is appalling, and viewed by fewer people because it is less entertaining.

        My grammar is not be perfect, perhaps because some of my youth was spent playing sports with others.
        You’re so much more fortunate. Probably a billionaire with your mad skills, right?

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    2. ndcrazymike 1 year ago

      Hope your not ripping your favorite coach WILLIE T AND that great offense on the FLA ST site!! HOWS that workin out for ya dope!! OBTW HOPSCOTCH AND JUMPROPE aren’t really considered sports even though you played them as a youth!!

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      1. Greg Kelly 12 months ago

        I might add cakewalk and hula hoop in his behalf.

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  2. Bruce G Curme 1 year ago

    Incidentally Southside, Leahy brought a truckload of GI grunts back home with him after WWII…guys who shared the experiences and values of my father and uncles…one captured, two wounded, and the other 7 changed for life. It’s ironic that some of these posters admire Leahy and those teams so much (they were probably the only matches to Alabama’s modern day teams…undefeated four years in a row!) But these same posters are puzzled by your earlier reference to those same kinds of men. Winning means nothing if you don’t look pretty doing it, right?

    Southside, these posters desperately want you, and all the readers, and the team itself to believe that we are losers here at ND. But don’t you believe it for one minute. We know how hard they’ve worked the past two years…and it has been reflected in the record already in 2017 (10-3 w/ a New Year’s Bowl win) and in 2018…undefeated, though not with ease, for sure…that’s why “undefeated” becomes a term they mock and dismiss…what else can they do with it?

    BGC ’77 ’82

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    1. Ron Burgundy 1 year ago

      Making ND Great Again!

      Reply Like Dislike
    2. ndcrazymike 1 year ago

      We’ll put BGC , YOU ARE CORRECT!!

      Reply Like Dislike
  3. southside 1 year ago

    Irish go 4-0. Do I need to elaborate ?

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  4. Greg Kelly 1 year ago

    I heard Whole Foods delivers now, but can’t deliver a victory. Time to start season two and rout Deacons 35-10.

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    1. david 1 year ago

      Try to spin it, but the utter oblivious idiocy displayed in your original ‘Whole Foods’ comment is in the posting HOF.

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      1. Greg Kelly 1 year ago

        Actually, I preferred White Front, but then you’re probably way to young and not enlightened enough to remember that.

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      2. david 1 year ago

        I heard of Wake Forest….making me more informed than you.
        But I’m not bragging. Because that’s a low bar.

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      3. WillyT 12 months ago

        Good work fixing your grammar. I fire for effect as we in the Corps. Somebody points out the consistent negative tenor of your texts and you reply with rancor because you’re thin-skinned. Yeah, I played ball too. It toughened me up. You, however, sound like a tightly-wound kid, Dave. Maybe you should watch another team? Think about it: If you are in fact correct and ND is “appalling” as you say, why not spend 4 hours this Saturday doing something else? Maybe you can meet a girl for drink? I’m really pushing the date with a woman b/c it’ll force to engage in something real. Be confident in yourself. Leave this board and get back to living.

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    2. ndcrazymike 1 year ago

      I have to give you credit GK, you never ever lose your faith in this team!! GO IRISH!!!!

      Reply Like Dislike
  5. Shaun Donaldson 1 year ago

    Don’t forget and sleep on WF’s return game…they have a clear advantage there.

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  6. Fitz 1 year ago

    It is amazing how many times how most QBs have their best games against the Irish but I don’t see WF posting 24 on Saturday. I just hope ND lnotches 31.
    ND 24 Wake 13

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