Tim O'Malley – Managing EditorI don't buy the trap game aspect I've read and heard elsewhere. In fact, if the game were at noon, I'd be much more wary than for this special prime time edition for the hosts. Notre Dame will play its fourth of six night contests Saturday in Winston-Salem; I don't think the modest ABC audience (I hear there's another game on) and 31,000-plus fans will add any undue pressure to Brian Kelly's battle-tested group.
I'm wary of Irish sporting events by nature, but to be blunt, I'd be more surprised if Wake Forest wins than if the Irish win 45-10. I'm sure the truth lies somewhere in between. (Look for the full prediction preview column to be published midday Friday).
Notre Dame 34 Wake Forest 17
Brian Dohn – NE Recruiting AnalystNotre Dame is feeling good about its offensive output and team unity after pasting Navy last week, but the Irish need to be careful. They are going against a very good coach and what I believe is an underrated team. The Demon Deacons are playing much differently than when they lost the season opener at Syracuse, and are coming off a pounding of North Carolina.
Add in the night game and atmosphere of Notre Dame coming to town, and it could be a dogfight.
Wake Forest 31 Notre Dame 30
Dave Berk – Recruiting AnalystLast week the Irish got back to winning football in dominating fashion. This week they head to Wake Forest who is a little surprising with their overall record.
A tough home crowd is expected and Brian Kelly will need to make sure his team doesn't take the Demon Deacons lightly. However, when all is said and done, the Irish should overpower Wake and have another dominating performance. Irish win 35-10
Christian Zavisca – Staff WriterA month ago I attended Florida State at Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons dismantled a banged-up and uninterested-seeming FSU squad, winning 35-30, forcing five turnovers and committing none in the process. Since then, they've looked shaky with two losses and a narrow win over Duke, putting Wake at 5-3. But any team that does what it did to Florida State can't be taken completely lightly.
It will be an interesting atmosphere for this night game. BB&T Field holds only about 31,000 fans. It will be a much more down-home setting than Notre Dame usually finds, complete with gimmicky on-field fan contests and stuff like that, if similar to the FSU contest (think minor league baseball).
As for the game itself, Jim Grobe will have a few offensive tricks up his sleeve -- the Deacs threw a wide receiver pass and showed a number of different offensive looks against FSU. If Notre Dame remains focused and balanced, its superior strength and talent should key the victory.
Notre Dame 37 Wake Forest 24
Morrissey79 – ModeratorWhat Notre Dame team will we see this week?
The one that basically handed the ball/wins to its first two opponents with careless (and even sometimes fluke) turnovers? The one that physically dismantled a tough, top 20 Michigan St. team? Or the one who struggled to be consistent against Pitt? What about the one that exploded offensively against Air Force; or that thoroughly dominated Purdue and Navy from the outset? Could it be the one who played flat and careless against USC?
At this point, I have no clue how to predict this teams performance, and ill readily admit it.
Wake Forest has a solid offense led by QB Tanner Price and WR Chris Givens. Some have said the key will be shutting Givens down, but even when he's had great success, the team has still lost (see ‘Cuse and Va Tech losses).
Wake has an aggressive defense that will test Tommy Rees and his ability to check and make quick reads. Nobody will mistake Wake Forest for the Big House at night, but it will be a highly anticipated game for Wake Forest fans and players.
ND must establish the run early, and continue to allow Tommy to play off the play action fakes. ND also must get Floyd involved early, and its linebackers have to play well in coverage, specifically Fox and Te'o.
ND will probably roll out multiple looks on D, and get 5 DBs on the field at times.
Building off last weeks strong performance, ND puts together two consecutive strong games and handles Wake with ease. Wake will score a TD late in the game against ND's 2nd string D to make the score look better.
ND 38 Wake 20
SeattleNDFan – ModeratorThe blueprint for beating Wake Forest has been laid out for Notre Dame – control WR Chris Givens and you pretty much shut them down. As in stark contrast to the last three teams ND has played, Wake either will not or cannot run the ball down your throat as they use the pass to set up the run instead of vice versa, a philosophy shared by Brian Kelly, but also a philosophy validated decades ago by Hall of Famer Bill Walsh.
Those who believe that turnovers are a sign of poor coaching should expect that Wake, which had five turnovers last week, will serve up the ball again, despite having a very highly regarded head coach in Jim Grobe.
While I am obviously implying that Wake has many similarities to ND on offense, on defense the Irish stack up as far superior to a bend-but-not-break Wake Forest defense which has nevertheless broken more often than not, and this should be the difference in the game. Notre Dame 38 Wake Forest 17
BNolan – ModeratorMuch like Morrissey, I'll admit that my crystal ball with this team is a murky mess. As he said... which team will show up?
Big wins against service academies, even when they are decent teams, are nice. But... they did little to convince me that this staff and team are capable of consistent performance(s) of any quality.
Should we defeat Wake Forest handily? Of course. On paper (a useless concept as of late...) we are considerably superior in talent. I certainly think we will prevail, but with how much accompanying profanity? – I'm speaking for myself here.
I don't care so much what the score is, I just want to see a well prepared staff and team play motivated hard-nosed football without ridiculous 'stupidisms' for four quarters. They need a lot of practice in this prior to Stanford.
ND 31 Wake Forest 20
KurzND – ModeratorIn reality Notre Dame and Wake Forest have never played. But as in Happy Days (way before my time) picking Wake over ND received laughs. That's how I feel this week. Wake shouldn't be able to stop the Irish offense with just too many weapons for Tommy Rees to use. For Wake it seems if you control Chris Givens, you control the Wake offense. Wake struggles running and should not be able to run on ND.
However Wake is a better team then Navy, Purdue, and Air Force, and could win if ND plays like they did vs. USF or SC. But in the end, look for the Irish continue to "Count on each other" and win big this week.
Notre Dame 35 Wake Forest 14
GaviND (Moderator)Dr. Jekyll??? Mr. Hyde??? Which version of the 2011 Notre Dame football team will show up this weekend?
With the exception of not showing up against an uber-talented USC squad two weeks ago, the Irish have fared well against squads that sport more of a pro style offense...and this week should be no different.
While I still expect Wake Forest to present some challenges to the Irish defense, I also think Aaron Lynch will reemerge as a factor on defense, supplying lots of pressure.
Offensively, if the Irish take care of the ball, it should be smooth sailing. While this is a disciplined Wake defense, they are not prepared to stop the balanced Irish attack.
ND 45 Wake 17