The Observer predicts Notre Dame vs. Wake Forest
José Sánchez Córdova, Assistant Managing Editor
Here we are again. Notre Dame football has to rebound from a disappointing loss in 2023. Thankfully, their opponent this weekend is the lowly Wake Forest Demon Deacons, who sit at the very bottom of the ACC. Wake Forest’s middling defense and woeful offense opens up a great chance for the Irish to shine. The Notre Dame defense should realistically be aiming to keep a shutout this weekend and give the struggling offense plenty of breathing room to figure things out. The Sam Hartman vs. Wake Forest storyline will be fun to watch, and I expect the Irish captain to find his groove this weekend in a comfortable Notre Dame win on Senior Day.
Notre Dame 42, Wake Forest 3.
Andrew McGuinness, Sports Editor
Though Notre Dame has consistently said they want to be an “anti-fragile” program, it’s hard not to feel like they’re up against the ropes. Fortunately, there’s no cure like the energy boost of Senior Day. And playing a Wake Forest team with a struggling passing attack of its own and with just one win since Sept. 16. The Demon Deacons aren’t a total pushover — they did almost upset Duke on the road a couple of weeks ago. But after a few pitiful weeks, graduate student Sam Hartman finally resembles his September self again — at least long enough for the Irish to leave Notre Dame Stadium on a high note.
Notre Dame 34, Wake Forest 10.
J.J. Post, Associate Sports Editor
I usually stray on the side of pragmatism with these predictions, and in most of Notre Dame’s games against Power Five opposition this year, such a strategy has proven prudent. I don’t foresee Saturday’s game being an especially even contest, though. Wake is a very well-coached squad and will be sure to have a meticulous gameplan. But the offensive firepower just isn’t there for the Demon Deacons. Notre Dame’s offense has had its own struggles, but the Irish have also shown an ability to brute force their way through games at home in a way Wake has not. The Irish have dominated each of their last two senior days. I think that trend continues this weekend. Let the marshmallows fly.
Notre Dame 41, Wake Forest 7.
Madeline Ladd, Associate Sports Editor
While the Notre Dame offense has had its struggles recently with Hartman, the Wake Forest offense he left has been a disaster. Averaging just over 20 points per game, the 4-6 Demon Deacons have lost three games in a row and have turned the ball over 20 times this season.
Wake is also unable to find consistency in a starting quarterback, having had to rotate through three starters due to injury. To make matters worse, Wake can’t run the ball well due to poor offensive line play. The Demon Deacons rank 128th in the nation in tackles for loss allowed. The Wake defense, by comparison, isn’t bad and has a solid pass rush led by Jasheen Davis (7.5 sacks) and Jacob Roberts (6).
This should be a “get right” game for Hartman as he takes on the team where he knew his greatest success. Unfortunately, it is the penultimate game in a season of lost hope and broken playoff dreams. The Irish always perform very well on Senior Day, so this should be a blowout, leaving us wondering what quarterback might be coming to South Bend this winter in the transfer portal.
Notre Dame 49, Wake Forest 10.
Matthew Crow, Associate Sports Editor
Notre Dame has been tough to predict during its recent 3-3 stretch, but the one constant has been the outstanding play of the Irish defense. Another strong showing from that unit should be enough to stifle a Wake Forest offense that managed just 6 points against NC State last weekend. On offense, the keys for the Irish to break out of their slump will be to avoid turnovers and convert on third down, two areas where they’ve struggled recently. Audric Estimé will have a big day while surpassing 100 rushing yards for the fifth time this season, and Hartman will connect on a few timely downfield passes to help Notre Dame close out its home slate with a win over his old team.
Notre Dame 31, Wake Forest 14.
Tom Zwiller, Senior Sports Writer
The feelings coming out of the first bye versus this second bye could not be more different, and initially, it made me want to predict a closer game. But in the spirit of optimism, I decided to dive into the numbers and tried to find a comparable opponent to Wake that Notre Dame has already played, landing on Pitt.
Offensively, Wake seems to be a bit more of a ground-and-pound squad. The Demon Deacons average 40 rushing attempts per game for about 3.3 yards per carry, while Pitt averages 3.4. Wake tends to run 70 plays per game and possesses the ball a bit better than Pitt.
Defensively, both teams allow a completion percentage greater than 60% and over 210 passing yards per game. Both teams are allowing around 150 yards per game on the ground, with Wake allowing 4.2 yards per carry, slightly more than Pitt.
During his Tuesday press conference, Audric Estimé said he wanted the Irish seniors to go out with a bang. I think Wake Forest will allow them to do just that.
Notre Dame 56, Wake Forest 3.