Tim O'Malley -- PublisherYesterday was Notre Dame's weekly "Perfect Practice Thursday." The weekly aspect of the outing is in name only, with head coach Brian Kelly striving for perfection from his team in the final padded practice each game week.
As his Irish enter their 11th game of the season in national title contention, Kelly believes his mature group might have finally broached the day's stated goal:
"It's getting about as close as we've had in my time here to practicing and letting it go in terms of guys making good decisions, correcting themselves, and playing the game the right way. So perfect practice Thursday was good," he said.
Notre Dame's undefeated at home this fall, a potential first since 1998. None of the five to date have been easy, and adding to that reality is the Senior Day malaise that has plagued the program for more than two decades.
Notre Dame is 15-7 in its last 22 Senior Day games dating back to 1990 when the top-ranked Irish lost to unranked Penn State. Last year was a 16-14 win over 24-point underdog Boston College.
The Irish enter tomorrow's matchup favored by 24 as well; on the surface an absurd number for hosts who've yet to win by more than seven points in South Bend and have won just twice by that margin in an otherwise magical 2012 season.
All over the board this season, one constant applies to Wake Forest's travel schedule: they cannot score -- 16 points the most in a road game this season, a slate that includes losses by 52 (Florida State) and 31 (NC State last week).
The Demon Deacons will be the popular "against the spread" pick this week because of Notre Dame's well-documented home field issues. The Irish are indeed 7-14-1 against the spread in home games since 1990.
Time to go against the grain. Notre Dame 34 Wake Forest 9
Brian Dohn -- Recruiting ReporterNotre Dame should waltz into its showdown with USC by destroying Wake Forest, but although things ended well for the Irish on 10 occasions this season, it rarely is easy at home. Mediocre to bad teams challenged the Irish at home, and Senior Day is always a weird gig because of early emotion and possible burnout.
Wake Forest has done a nice of of hanging around and is used to playing in close games, but the Irish always find a way to win. And they will again. While I could see the Irish blowing out the Demon Deacons, this season's history suggests that won't happen. Notre Dame 20 Wake Forest 13
Dave Berk -- Recruiting AnalystNotre Dame at home and on Senior Day could spell a disaster as Wake Forest enters South Bend looking for their sixth win to become bowl eligible. However, this is an Irish team that believes they can win every game they take the field and will make sure to send Manti Te'o and the other seniors out on a winning not in their final game at Notre Dame Stadium. I see the Irish winning 27-9 with the biggest game of the Brian Kelly era coming next week against USC.
SeattleNDFan -- ModeratorSenior Day has served as more of a distraction than a boost for Notre Dame, but if there is a senior class able to put that distraction behind them it is this one led by Manti Te'o, Zeke Motta, Theo Riddick, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Tyler Eifert and Braxston Cave, as tough-minded a set of leaders as you could ask for.
Wake Forest is better than Boston College and has beaten North Carolina this season as well, but that's about where the positive stop for the Demon Deacons thus far. Tanner Price is a QB known to this Irish staff and team, and he was sacked five times last week against NC State. Wake averages less than 200 yards total offense on the road, so this side of the ball looks to be a decisive schematic (and personnel) advantage for the Irish.
Going the other way, Wake also lacks the kind of defensive front seven studs that Purdue, Michigan State and Stanford had to disrupt the Irish offensive line, so the story of how Everett Golson goes will once again be the story of how the Notre Dame offense goes. That and how many balls get left on the grass in what is apparently also its last appearance at Notre Dame Stadium prior to being replaced next season with hybrid DD Grassmaster turf a la Lambeau Field.
I think Notre Dame puts it together for once on Senior Day, rises above the distractions and the emotions and sends Manti, KLM. Theo and the others (including the grass) out on the right note of victory. Notre Dame 38 Wake Forest 0
GaviND -- ModeratorSenior day has long been a challenging day for the ND football program and it's fans. Not only does it symbolically signal the end of the road for the Irish seniors, but it has also proven a challenging day on the gridiron for years.
Enter Wake Forest.
The Demon Deacons sit at a soft 5-5 as they enter Notre Dame stadium with an early season victory over a Gio Bernard-less North Carolina standing as their only impressive victory.
The Demon Deacons are well coached and as such are not likely to do a ton to beat themselves, however, they have struggled mightily on the road having scored only three touchdowns in four tilts.
Look for the Irish to kill Wake Forest through the air as the Demon Deacons have the 101st worst pass defense in the nation. Tyler Eifert will crack the hundred yard mark and find the end zone in his final home battle as the Irish cruise! ND 31 WF 6
KurzND-- ModeratorIt'll be a bitter sweet moment as Te'o, Eifert, and other seniors take the field for the final time in South Bend. But it won't be that kind of bitter since the Irish will win.
Despite the festivities of Senior day and the looming SC game next weekend the Irish may be caught off guard, but Wake Forest is not a good team. On offense they average UNDER 200 yards a game on the road. Against the what may be the best defense in college football, no chance for an upset. Wake won't move the ball well and it won't be the nail biter it was a year ago in Winston-Salem.
The Irish will pound away at a WF front that won't be able to take it. The Irish roll on senior day and for the first time this season beat the spread at home. Notre Dame 38 Wake Forest 3
BNolan -- ModeratorLast home game for this squad... and the Heisman candidate. Ought to be a very emotional day for the Irish.
Also ought to be a smack down of a vastly inferior team. Like Pitt. Like BC. So... will it be? Or is it cruise control prior to playing in South Central? Style points count, like it or not. And a lot of teams are playing deluxe cream puffs this weekend.
A few SEC teams should be ashamed of who they are playing, but as we know, they are all shameless.
Anyway, back to the Irish... we should dominate on defense big time. As in little or no scoring by WF. The offense should move with impunity. We shall see. How Will Kelly call it? I'll be disappointed if it is less than a 30-point deficit. But that is just me. ND 37 Wake Forest 6
Morrissey79 -- ModeratorIts senior day in South Bend this weekend, and what an opportnity this senior class has to not only go 11-0, but also finish the season undefeated at home for the first time since 1998.
Emotions will be high, there are some special kids playing their last games at ND.
After 2 so so weeks, I expect ND to come out and play inspired, disciplined football. They will dominate both sides of the ball and play a complete game, sending the players and the students out in style.
Notre Dame 34 Wake Forest 6