Staff Predictions: Wake Forest
Observer Sports Writers | Thursday, November 3, 2011
ACC country, you say? Well, at least for this weekend, I’m going to focus on the game at hand. While speculation may run rampant about conference realignment and Notre Dame’s role in it, there’s very little speculation about which team is the better one this weekend.
Notre Dame is far more talented than the upstart Demon Deacons. While Wake Forest was able to take down an athletic Florida State squad, there’s no way it has the defense to even slow down Michael Floyd, Cierre Wood, Jonas Gray and company. The only worry is that the Irish secondary may struggle to contain quarterback Tanner Price, who has the capability to make Notre Dame pay if it misses a coverage. But I don’t have much doubt about this one. I wish I could say the same about conference realignment.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 42, Wake Forest 28
Allow me to forgo my weekly Pandora rift and instead channel my inner Golden Tate, circa last year’s matchup against Western Michigan.
Wake Forest? They don’t even belong on the same field as us.
Harsh, but true. Even I, the ever-pessimist, believe this. Yes, Notre Dame tends to play down to its opponent. Yes, the Demon Deacons topped Florida State. So yes, perhaps there is reason to worry.
But the drama of the last two weeks has created a focused Irish team, offense and defense. Look for a Purdue-esque blowout down in Winston-Salem. Look for a fast start by Rees and Floyd, and look for Notre Dame to never again play in such a small stadium as BB&T Stadium, holding only 31,000-plus.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 38, Wake Forest 10
Senior Sports Writer
It’s amazing how much can change in a week. After the USC game, the Irish were in strife. Their defense had been dismantled, their quarterback sidelined, and their coach started pointing fingers.
A week later, Notre Dame was back to beating teams it’s supposed to beat and doing it in decisive fashion.
Wake Forest is another one of those teams that Notre Dame is supposed to beat. Its defense is mediocre, its running game is suspect and its home field advantage is nearly non-existent in the smallest stadium among BCS conference teams.
The familiar names will be there — Floyd, Eifert, Te’o. Wake Forest simply does not have the athletes to keep up. The Irish will win another game they are supposed to win.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 42, Wake Forest 31
Associate Sports Editor
With a stadium that holds only 31,500 fans and a national audience even smaller than that because it goes up against the LSU-Alabama showdown, this game will demand little national attention.
A 5-3 Notre Dame team almost certainly locked into a Champs Sports Bowl bid goes up against a 5-3 Wake Forest squad that is still holding onto ACC Championship hopes in a very mediocre conference. Not that exciting.
But that’s fine. After a tense weeklong stretch that started with a disappointing loss to USC, continued with “Twittergate” and culminated with a 56-14 blowout of Navy, Brian Kelly and the players must be enjoying the calmness of the past week. It will show Saturday night as the Irish continue Kelly’s November unbeaten streak.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 38, Wake Forest 13
Assistant Managing Editor
Taking the road for the first time in a month, the Irish will play in front of the smallest crowd of the season when they take on a Wake Forest team still fighting for the ACC title. BB&T Field, home of the Demon Deacons, seats 31,500. The Big House seated 114,804 — an NCAA attendance record — for Notre Dame’s matchup under the lights.
Seating capacity is my biggest concern going into Saturday night’s contest. It’s really a shame so few will be on hand to see Notre Dame’s first complete performance of the season. I’m calling it right now — no turnovers and at least 400 yards of offense against a porous Wake defense. Look for a secondary led by North Carolina native Robert Blanton to force a turnover and at least one coverage sack.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 42, Wake Forest 6