Forgive Wake Forest if it's having a case of déjà vu. In 2012 the Demon Deacons came to South Bend to play No. 3 Notre Dame on Senior Day. Fast-forward three years and Wake is again heading to Michiana to face No. 4 Notre Dame on Senior Day. Since the Irish won 38-0 that day, ND hopes for déjà vu as well.
Notre Dame returns home after its two-week Pennsylvania excursion, coming away with victories over Temple and Pittsburgh. Notre Dame still may need some help in its quest to get into the College Football Playoff. But first and foremost, it must take care of its own business and that starts with Wake Forest.
Wake Forest and Notre Dame have played just twice before with Notre Dame coming out on top on both occasions.
Wake Forest at Notre Dame
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: NBC
Spread: Notre Dame -27.5
Three Things to Watch
1. The Health of C.J. Prosise
Prosise is cleared to play after suffering a shoulder injury and concussion in the Pittsburgh game. It will be interesting to see how effective he will be and how much he is actually used. Josh Adams had a huge game at Pitt, but the Irish do not want to rely too heavily on the freshman from Warrington, Pa. In a perfect Irish scenario, ND would get up big early, Prosise would get some touches, but Adams and fellow freshman Dexter Williams would see the bulk of the action.
2. Notre Dame Offensive Line vs. the Wake Forest Defensive Front
In his Tuesday press conference, head coach Brian Kelly said that Wake Forest has a very good defense and he would be right. They are No. 21 against the pass and tied with Florida State at No. 32 in total defense. Linebacker Brandon Chubb is a great player and he is supported by fellow linebacker Marquel Lee. Before the season started, Athlon ranked the Wake Forest linebacker group as the second best in the ACC. Their defensive line doesn’t make a lot of plays, but what they do is provide space for the linebackers to roam. The Notre Dame offensive line will not only have to secure their first block, but will also have to be able to get to the second level to open up running lanes for Prosise and Adams.
3. Testing the Notre Dame Secondary
Wake Forest is 121st in the country in rushing yardage and its leading rusher is quarterback Kendall Hilton, who is listed behind John Wolford on the depth chart. The Irish secondary has been suspect throughout the season and to move the ball Wake is going to have to throw. Tight end Can Serigne is the Deacs' leading receiver and will get plenty of opportunities in this game. Wake Forest will also test the Irish downfield with Cortez Lewis, K.J. Brent, and Tabari Hines. These receivers have some skill, but Wolford has to have time to get the ball out, something he hasn’t had much of this season. Wake Forest quarterbacks have been sacked 31 times which is No. 122 in the FBS.
Defensively, Wake Forest has played pretty well for most of the season. They gave Louisville a hard time in their last game and hung with Florida State as a result of solid play on the defensive side of the ball. But Notre Dame features a balanced attack that teams like North Carolina and North Carolina State used to give the Deacons all kinds of problems with. Also, Wake’s offense is just not good. They can’t run the ball against anyone, so running against Sheldon Day, Isaac Rochelle, and company will be next to impossible. Wake Forest’s defense will put forth a good fight for a while, but the Irish big offensive will wear them down and DeShone Kizer (did it really take me this long to finally mention him?) will make big plays in the passing game. Notre Dame keeps its playoff hopes alive with an easy win.
Prediction: Notre Dame 34, Wake Forest 10
— Written by Jon Kinne, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a college football fanatic. Kinne has been writing about recruiting for the Irish Sports Daily for 10 years. Follow him on Twitter @JonRKinne.