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The undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish take their show on the road when they head to Winston Salem to do battle with the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. The Irish remained unbeaten after surviving a scare from the Vanderbilt Commodores this past Saturday at home, while the Demon Deacons dropped their first of the season on Thursday to the visiting Boston College Eagles in a game that was scrutinized all week due to it being played with Hurricane Florence approaching. This will be the fifth all-time meeting between the two schools with Notre Dame having won all four of the previous matchups, including a 48-37 victory last season in South Bend.
Irish Aiming to Make a Run
Year in and year out, as an Independent, Notre Dame plays one of the toughest schedules in the country and this year is no different. However, after surviving Michigan in the season opener, they were supposed to be cake-walking through this stretch of the likes of Ball State, Vanderbilt, and Wake Forest. Capable schools to be sure, but not exactly football powerhouses. The Irish struggled with the Cardinals before winning 24-16, and had to come up with a late fourth-down stop to ultimately outlast Vanderbilt, 22-17.
Against the ‘Dores, ND scored the first 16 points of the game before allowing a field goal as time expired to end the first half. The Irish D was tough against the run all day, allowing just 27 yards on the ground in the first half and 94 for the day. The performance by the offense, however, left a little to be desired. They started out like gangbusters with 161 yards in the first quarter before hitting a season low of just 25 yards in the third quarter. They are going to have to get more consistent offensively if they hope to survive their first road test of the season.
Brandon Wimbush has struggled at the quarterback position, throwing for just 589 yards through three games with one touchdown against four interceptions. The team as a whole is putting up 365.3 yards per game but will be looking to up that average against a Wake defense that is allowing 456.7 yards per contest, including 310 through the air. The team’s leading rusher is Tony Jones Jr. who has 224 yards on 39 carries with two scores.
Wake Wanting to earn Respect
After a ho-hum 23-17 victory over Tulane in New Orleans to open the season, the Demon Deacons returned home and beat Towson by 31 points. They were unable to keep that momentum five days later though when Boston College came down and pulled out a 41-34 victory. The team allowed Eagles quarterback Anthony Brown to throw for five touchdowns along the way and will want to shore up that pass defense if they hope to earn their first-ever victory over the Irish.
Kickoff for the BC game was two hours earlier than planned with the Hurricane bearing down on the area but that did not stop both teams from starting early, each scoring 21 points in the first half, but the Demon Deacons could not keep up in the second half, falling behind 41-27 before a late score brought them within a touchdown, but it was too little too late.
Sam Hartman has been having a solid season behind center, throwing for 834 yards and six touchdowns to this point, but he has also found the wrong colored jersey five times. The team is putting up 542 years per game but will be up against a Notre Dame defense that is allowing just 358 per contest and only 251 through the air. Cade Carney has ran for 300 yards and two scores through three games, and will be counted on to help open up the passing game on Saturday.
Wake Forest is:
- 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games after allowing more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game.
- 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
- 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games after allowing more than 40 points in their previous game.
- 7-3 ATS in their last 10 vs. Independents.
Notre Dame is:
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following an ATS loss.
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games after allowing less than 20 points in their previous game.
- 1-6 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
- 0-5 ATS in their last 5 games following a straight up win.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Notre Dame is the better football team here, but the only team they have beaten by more than 7.5 points this season is Ball State, and that was at home. They are going up against a team that is averaging 207 more yards a game than they are. They are the more talented side to be sure, but they have not given us any reason to this point in the season to think that they will cover this spread in their first road test of the season.
Prediction: Pick: Wake Forest +7.5
Full-Game Total Pick
If you are gong by last year’s result, these two teams combined to obliterate this total, but with each squad coming into this game a bit more familiar with their opponent, you should not expect the same fireworks as from a season ago. Wake has shown the ability to put points on the board but can they do it against a Notre Dame defense that has shut down more capable teams already? My money says no, and your should too!
Prediction: Under 60.5