WHO? No. 8 Notre Dame (3-0) at Wake Forest (2-1).
WHAT? A rematch from last year’s 48-37 Irish victory, though both of these teams have since lost their greatest offensive weapons. Notre Dame can no longer claim a record-setting back running behind two offensive linemen already starting in the NFL, and the Demon Deacons are without four-year starting quarterback John Wolford and his impeccable understanding of the scheme.
WHEN? 12 p.m. ET. Yes, a rare early kick for the Irish, their first since back-to-back noon kicks to start October in 2016, a 50-33 victory against Syracuse in East Rutherford, N.J., and a 10-3 loss at North Carolina State in a literal hurricane.
WHERE? BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, N.C. The smallest home stadium of all 65 Power Five schools, BB&T holds 31,500. The next smallest is Washington State’s Martin Stadium, holding a bit more than 32,000.
ABC will have the national broadcast, and one presumes it will be available for streaming through the Watch ESPN app.
WHY? In many respects, the schedule has set up nearly-ideally for the Irish, and this trip plays right into that. Notre Dame got to face Michigan before the Wolverines found anything of an offense, having scored 49 and 45 points in the two weeks since. Then the Irish could work through offensive struggles of their own against Ball State and Vanderbilt. Now Notre Dame’s first road trip of the season also looks to be its easiest of only four true road games.
That has opened the door for Irish head coach Brian Kelly to reportedly start junior Ian Book at quarterback in place of a healthy Brandon Wimbush, the starter in 15 of the last 16 games, only sitting at North Carolina last year due to a mild foot injury.
IT SEEMS LIKE NOTRE DAME HAS PLAYED WAKE FOREST A LOT OF LATE.
That is not false. The two met for the first time in 2011, and this will be their fifth matchup in only eight years. The Irish have won the previous four, with the only trip to Winston-Salem being the only one-possession contest of the bunch, a 24-17 outcome in that first game. At the time, it did not feel low-scoring; No. 1 LSU was holding off No. 2 Alabama 9-6 in overtime without anyone finding the end zone as Brian Kelly began his own postgame press conference.
BY HOW MUCH? After spending much of the week with Notre Dame favored by eight points, the spread swung Friday to a 6.5-point margin with a combined point total over/under of 59.5. If sticking to those marks, a 33-27 Irish win would be the conclusion.
Two parts of that stick out. Notre Dame has yet to give up more than 17 points in a game while the Deacons managed just 23 in their opener at Tulane. The Irish, meanwhile, have not scored more than 24 points in a game since running up those 48 against Wake Forest last year, a seven-game stretch.
Then why the elevated over/under? The Deacons defense is bad enough, bookmakers expect Notre Dame’s offense to finally break through, no matter who leads the way at quarterback.
I’ll believe that when I see it, though the atrocious Wake Forest defense should give way more often than speedy and shifty receiver Greg Dortch finds the end zone.
Notre Dame 27, Wake Forest 24.
(3-0 in pick; 1-2 against the spread, 3-0 point total.)
INSIDE THE IRISH READING:
— Could Notre Dame’s identity be as obvious as it seems?
— Who can Notre Dame play at nickel back to slow Wake’s Greg Dortch?
— Notre Dame’s Opponents: Rough weekends for Florida State & USC with little relief in sight
— Notre Dame’s scripts bear more repeating
— And In That Corner … The Wake Forest Demon Deacons
— Things To Learn: Will Notre Dame’s offense show up on its first road trip?
— Brian Kelly refuses to tip Notre Dame’s hand amid QB rumors
— When applauding Notre Dame’s opponents is appropriate
— Ian Book expected to start for Notre Dame
— Third and too many for Notre Dame
— Wake Forest, and Greg Dortch, primed for opportunity against No. 8 Notre Dame
— Kendall Hinton’s return to field could come in a few different places
— Magic won’t fix Wake Forest’s issues with pass defense, so the Deacons turn to other methods
— Talent, tragedy and triumph: The legend of Sam Hartman
— Sam Hartman’s path to Wake Forest’s starting QB has been anything but normal
— How did Florida State’s offensive line get this bad?
— Eagles promote running back Josh Adams from practice squad