Skip to content

Wake Forest embraces the role of spoiler

Nov 15, 2012, 12:06 PM EDT

Jim Grobe

On Saturday afternoon in Notre Dame Stadium, we won’t be short on subplots. A group of seniors will be saying goodbye to the Golden Dome. Manti Te’o will take his curtain call. And the Irish will look to sway some undecided voters as they try to make up ground in a three-team race for the national championship.

Somewhere down the list is Jim Grobe’s Wake Forest team. And that’s probably just fine for the Demon Deacons, who are desperately looking for their sixth win of the season.

“I think certainly you’d be a spoiler if you got to sneak up there and get a win,” Grobe said in his weekly press conference. “Just playing Notre Dame is going to have your kids pumped up.”

On paper, there isn’t much to like about this Wake Forest team. They’ve been brutal on the road, outscored 118-36 in their four road games, averaging less than 200 yards while going 1-3. Their lone victory against a winning team came in week two against North Carolina. They’ve got an offensive line that’s decimated by injuries and plagued with youth, a combination that doesn’t bode well against Notre Dame’s front seven. But they’ll line up on Saturday afternoon knowing they have the opportunity to knock off a national championship contender in mid-November.

“Well we certainly hope our guys don’t go there for sightseeing,” Grobe said. “That’s going to be a key. I think we just have to go play. I’m going to try not to make too big of a deal out of it. We’ve played a lot of good teams so far this year. This will be our third game against a top 10 team that we’re playing. We just know that going on the road is tough and playing a great team like Notre Dame will be a challenge.”

One thing playing in the Demon Deacons favor is their somewhat familiarity with the Irish. Last year, in a game that was one of the most highly-anticipated in Groves Stadium history, Wake Forest battled Notre Dame until the end, having a chance to tie the game up late before falling 24-17. And while Grobe’s squad won’t have the friendly confines of home field advantage on their side, the familiarity with an opponent helps.

“We were very disappointed last year because we had a chance to win, or at least tie it late, and didn’t get that done,” Grobe said. But I think playing at Notre Dame is a little different. This will be a great environment and make our job a lot tougher. But I think playing at home last year really helped us.”

Grobe’s experience coaching at Air Force has given him a look at a football Saturday at Notre Dame. And with the added emotions of Senior Day and a perfect crisp autumn day forecasted, the veteran head coach has his team ready for their surroundings.

“It’s kind of business as usual at practice, but he’s told us that it’s going to be a crazy environment,” fullback Tommy Bohanon said. “You have to think of the craziest stadium that you’ve played in, and it’s going to be something like that. Like going down to Death Valley or something like that. It’s going to be even more crazy than that.”

Perhaps overstating the Notre Dame crowd-noise experience just a bit, Bohanon’s point is valid, if only because of the perfect storm that’s been building in South Bend all season. And for an inexperienced football team that’s crumbled at the seams this year when facing stiff competition, the mental battle will be just as important for Wake Forest as anything happening on the field.

“It’s all mental,” safety A.J. Marshall said about the nerves that come with playing a big road game. “Once you get that first little bit of contact, I feel like we get relaxed. Whether it’s the first catch, first block or first knockdown, you really start to get comfortable and get acquainted to the game.”

“There will be almost 100,000 fans going against us, and we can’t wait to go out there and play.”

Latest Posts
  1. Bye week Mailbag: Now Open

    Oct 23, 2014, 12:07 AM EDT

    New Mailbox

    Drop your questions below. Or on Twitter @KeithArnold.

  2. Future ACC schedules come into focus

    Oct 22, 2014, 11:43 AM EDT

    Jack Swarbrick

    With Notre Dame’s scheduling agreement in place with the ACC, Jack Swarbrick and the Irish athletic department can find some certainty in their future slates. That certainty was announced Tuesday, with dates for five ACC games in place through 2019 and matchups set through 2025.

  3. Can Notre Dame kill Pac-12’s playoff chances?

    Oct 21, 2014, 7:28 PM EDT

    After eight weeks, the forecast for the first College Football Playoff is coming into focus. After falling to Florida State last weekend, the Irish lost pole position. But as a one-loss team now likely competing for one of the final spots in the four-team event, Notre Dame remains one of the top dark horse candidates.

  4. Bye week breather: Brighter days ahead

    Oct 21, 2014, 12:14 PM EDT

    Will Fuller, P.J. Williams Will Fuller, P.J. Williams

    At this point, it doesn’t matter that the ACC has reversed course, deciding that the pass interference penalty was on C.J. Prosise after all. And that they’ve acknowledged that the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty they missed for P.J. Williams removing his helmet should’ve set up Notre Dame with a 1st-and-goal at the 9-yard line.

    We’re moving on. (I promise.)

  5. The good, the bad, the ugly: Notre Dame vs. Florida State

    Oct 20, 2014, 1:33 PM EDT

    Notre Dame at Florida State Notre Dame at Florida State

    Usually, Brian Kelly gives his team 24 hours to celebrate a win or get over a loss. That rule was likely tested — and you couldn’t blame him if it was slightly relaxed — after Saturday night’s 31-27 loss.

    “We need to give our kids a break. They’ve been going since June,” Kelly said on Sunday. “Our first bye week we kept them here to stay on top of their academics. We’re going to give them a little time off. But we’ll come back recharged, ready to go.”

  6. Kelly: Less clarity on FSU’s “blown coverage”

    Oct 19, 2014, 3:56 PM EDT

    Notre Dame at Florida State Notre Dame at Florida State

    Upon second inspection, Brian Kelly hasn’t gained any clarity on the offensive pass interference call that took a game-winning touchdown off the board. While the head coach has moved on, with the Irish getting some much-needed time off during fall break, Kelly’s opinion on the play — now that he’s realized the penalty was on Will Fuller, not C.J. Prosise — is even more muddled.

  7. Five things we learned: Florida State 31, Notre Dame 27

    Oct 19, 2014, 2:37 AM EDT

    Jameis Winston,Everett Golson Jameis Winston,Everett Golson

    With 13 seconds left, Corey Robinson caught the 4th-down pass from Everett Golson and walked into the end zone, all but uncovered. And for a moment, it looked like Notre Dame pulled off a win for the ages.

  8. Live blog — Notre Dame vs. Florida State

    Oct 18, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    William Fuller, Julian Whigham, Durell Eskridge William Fuller, Julian Whigham, Durell Eskridge

    It’s finally here. Not just the biggest game of the year, but the ultimate test for this Notre Dame football team. Entering Doak Campbell Stadium against the defending national champs and Heisman Trophy winner, we’ll see if the Irish have what it takes to upset the Seminoles.

  9. FSU Mailbag: Just in time

    Oct 18, 2014, 6:08 PM EDT

    Michigan v Notre Dame Getty Images

    With the big showdown just a few hours away, let’s get to the mailbag questions.

  10. Pregame Six Pack: Showdown with the Seminoles

    Oct 17, 2014, 12:41 PM EDT

    Rice v Notre Dame Getty Images

    It wasn’t too long ago that an undefeated Notre Dame team was about to head into some of the most hostile territory in all of college football. A double-digit underdog for a primetime, ESPN game, many expected Brian Kelly’s flawed, but surprisingly undefeated squad to be no match for their opponent. Then the Irish pulled away in a tight game and beat Oklahoma 30-13.

  11. Hardy could return to practice after bye week

    Oct 16, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT

    Navy v Notre Dame Getty Images

    We’ve heard from four of the five suspended Notre Dame football players, with DaVaris Daniels, Kendall Moore, KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams all acknowledging that they’re out for the season. But Brian Kelly gave an update on safety Eilar Hardy’s status, opening a window for his return to the roster.

  12. Irish add Indianapolis LB recruit Asmar Bilal

    Oct 16, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT

    247Sports.com / Blue & Gold 247Sports.com / Blue & Gold

    Notre Dame’s recruiting train keeps rolling with the Irish accepting the commitment of Indianapolis linebacker Asmar Bilal. The Ben Davis product chose Notre Dame over Michigan in a recruitment that seemed to have the Wolverines in the driver’s seat until the football season started.

  13. Golson set to challenge Seminole defense

    Oct 16, 2014, 2:32 PM EDT

    Stanford v Notre Dame Getty Images

    It’s clear that Florida State’s defense is showing the appropriate respect for Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson. Just look at who they’re comparing him to.

  14. Florida State Mailbag: Now Open

    Oct 15, 2014, 7:46 PM EDT

    New Mailbox

    Questions below or on Twitter @KeithArnold.

  15. Kendall Moore announces his departure from Notre Dame

    Oct 15, 2014, 12:01 PM EDT

    Notre Dame v Stanford Notre Dame v Stanford

    As expected, Kendall Moore took to Instagram yesterday and announced his departure from Notre Dame. The fifth-year linebacker was likely to play a reserve role for the Irish this season before the academic investigation took him off the field, ending his football career before his final season could start.

  16. And in that corner… The Florida State Seminoles

    Oct 15, 2014, 11:37 AM EDT

    Wake Forest v Florida State Getty Images

    The off-field drama can wait. The biggest game of the year awaits. Ben Jones of Warchant.com gives us an inside look at the Florida State Seminoles.

  17. Kelly excited for the opportunity to play Florida State (VIDEO)

    Oct 14, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT

    North Carolina v Notre Dame Getty Images

    While off-the-field issues have stolen plenty of headlines lately for both programs, Notre Dame and Florida State meet in a battle of Top Five teams that has the makings of a game of the year candidate.

  18. Door potentially open for Ishaq Williams to return in 2015

    Oct 14, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT

    USC v Notre Dame Getty Images

    While the news of DaVaris Daniels’ departure broke just minutes before Brian Kelly was set to hit the podium, the Irish head coach gave a significant update on his five suspended players during his Tuesday afternoon comments. Defensive end Ishaq Williams told his head coach that he wouldn’t play during the 2014 season. But Kelly left the door open that Williams might return and finish his eligibility in 2015.

  19. DaVaris Daniels done at Notre Dame

    Oct 14, 2014, 12:40 PM EDT

    BYU v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Another piece of finality has arrived in the ongoing suspensions of Notre Dame’s five football players. Wide receiver DaVaris Daniels will not return to Notre Dame.

  20. Big test ahead for Irish offensive line

    Oct 14, 2014, 11:51 AM EDT

    Notre Dame v Syracuse Notre Dame v Syracuse

    After an early-season reshuffling, Notre Dame’s offensive line will get its biggest test of the year on Saturday. The starting five in charge of protecting Everett Golson will have to go into hostile territory and take on Florida State’s star-studded defensive line.