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History of the Matchup: Notre Dame vs. Wake Forest

| Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Chris Collins | The Observer
Irish quarterback Ian Book runs downfield during Notre Dame’s 48-37 victory over Wake Forest on Nov. 3, 2017 at Notre Dame Stadium.

The Irish will take the field Saturday for the 500th game in Notre Dame Stadium history. Wake Forest comes to town as one of two ACC programs (Virginia) without a win against the Irish. In five head-to-head games, all played in the last 13 years, Notre Dame has outscored Wake 194-88. Both teams have gold helmets, but as history tells us, the Irish have done all the shining.

2011: Notre Dame 24, Wake Forest 17

Player of the Game: Wake Forest DB Josh Bush

The Notre Dame-Wake Forest series began with an ugly battle of three-loss teams in 2011. Bush plucked two interceptions against Tommy Rees and a largely stagnant Irish offense. But the Demon Deacons didn’t move the ball well either, coughing up a 17-10 lead with a scoreless second half. Wake Forest twice came up empty after halftime with the ball inside Notre Dame’s 10.

Before their storybook 2012 season, the Irish would go on to lose to Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl.

2012: Notre Dame 38, Wake Forest 0

Player of the Game: Baylor and Stanford

If the year ended in the number two, Notre Dame probably earned a Senior Day shutout. That’s right. In 2002, 2012 and 2022, the Irish blanked their final home opponent. For what it’s worth, the Irish face Wake Forest at an unknown point in the 2032 schedule.

This day, which saw the Irish improve to 11-0 on the way to a BCS title game appearance, was a truly special one in South Bend. Irish supporters honored the legacy of Heisman finalist linebacker Manti Te’o. They did the same for Tyler Eifert, who broke Notre Dame’s 35-year-old record for career receptions by a tight end during the game.

After the game, the two teams occupying spots ahead of the Irish in the BCS Standings lost. Kansas State fell to Baylor, while Oregon fell to Stanford, moving Notre Dame to No. 1 in the nation before into the regular season finale.

2015: Notre Dame 28, Wake Forest 7

Player of the Game: Notre Dame RB Josh Adams

Another Irish record fell on Senior Day in 2015. With 9:59 to play in the second quarter, running back Josh Adams broke out for a 98-yard touchdown, the longest score from scrimmage in Notre Dame history. The rest of the Irish offense largely scuffled, but its counterpart did the job on defense. Linebackers Jaylon Smith and Joe Schmidt combined for 24 tackles, while defensive lineman Andrew Trumbetti took an interception to the house in the first quarter.

The one-loss, playoff-caliber Irish would take down Boston College at Fenway Park a week later. But a dramatic, season-ending loss at Stanford killed Notre Dame’s shot at its first College Football Playoff berth.

2017: Notre Dame 48, Wake Forest 37

Player of the Game: Notre Dame WR Chase Claypool

If you’re active on social media, you might know about “Sports Images that Precede Unfortunate Events” accounts. Professional sports like baseball, hockey and soccer all have one. A picture of this game’s final score would certainly qualify for a college football account of such a nature. The week after this one, the No. 3 8-1 Irish would crash and burn in a 41-8 loss to Miami.

But Notre Dame fans still enjoyed this early-November clash that featured 710 total Irish yards. Even with star quarterback Brandon Wimbush and Josh Adams banged up, Notre Dame still managed to open up a 41-16 lead before Wake figured out the soon-to-be exposed Irish defense. On his way to the NFL, sophomore wide receiver Chase Claypool more than tripled his career high with 180 receiving yards and a touchdown.

2018: Notre Dame 56, Wake Forest 27

Player of the Game: Notre Dame QB Ian Book

Do you recall Sam Hartman’s fourth career start? Maybe not. But you probably remember game one of Ian Book’s historic career as the Irish starting quarterback. With Notre Dame, an eventual 12-0 team, averaging under 24 points per game through three weeks, head coach Brian Kelly made his move. Brandon Wimbush, the 2017 starter, gave way to a red zone specialist at the time in Book. Suffice to say, it paid off.

Book terrorized the Wake Forest defense in Winston-Salem, adding 5 total touchdowns to 325 passing yards. Running back Jafar Armstrong, a stud himself early in 2018, collected 98 ground yards and 2 rushing scores. For the second consecutive year, the Irish dropped at least 6 touchdowns and 500-plus yards of offense on the Deacs. On the losing end, the 19-year-old Hartman completed 12-of-24 passes for 110 yards.

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About Tyler Reidy

Tyler is a sophomore who serves as an Associate Sports Editor at The Observer. Hailing from Omaha, Nebraska, and Keough Hall, he enjoys road trips, all things collegiate athletics and Kansas City barbecue. Reach out here or @TylerJReidy on Twitter!

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