Wake Forest at Notre Dame
Saturday, 12:30 pm PT - NBC
CRIS Opener: Notre Dame -15 O/U 56
CRIS Current: Notre Dame -14 O/U 55
Recommendation: Notre Dame
Notre Dame continues to bury opponents as last week’s 35-14 win and cover versus North Carolina State became the seventh time in their seven victories that the Irish won 20 or more points. The ND ground game shredded NC State’s very formidable defensive front on the way to their fourth consecutive 300+ rushing effort. The offensive line for Notre Dame has undoubtedly been one of the three best in the nation and figures to be a handful for Wake Forest this Saturday. First year Offensive Coordinator Chip Long has unleashed Brian Kelly’s preferred read-option style attack which now has all the ingredients including home run threat runners QB Brandon Wimbush and RB Josh Adams. Wake Forest has seen their share of talented running quarterbacks this season including Louisville’s Lamar Jackson last week. They’ve also faces Clemson’s Kelly Bryant (was injured in third quarter of that game), Appalachian State’s Taylor Lamb and Utah State’s Kent Meyers. Wake bottled up three of those running signal callers and their overall ground attacks pretty well until last week when Jackson exploded for 161 rushing yards on 6.0 per carry. Louisville does not have an NFL caliber running back to go with Jackson nor do they have a dominant offensive line which makes this a massive task for the Demon Deacons.
Offensively, Wake Forest has been exceedingly better than advertised. The implementation of HC Dave Clawson’s expanded playbook which began in last year’s bowl game appearance has produced 427.3 total yards per game. That number is 116 ypg higher than last season’s number and this is the first time this decade Wake has exceeded 370. Quicker tempo, better QB play from starter John Woolford, solid execution of their quick hitting passing attack and offensive balance are all responsible for the increased production. However, in three of their last four games they have faced defenses ranked in the nation’s top 35 and they have failed to gain over 367 total yards. In those games (Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech), WF has averaged 335 ypg and 19 ppg. Notre Dame’s defense comes in at 34th which indicates Wake’s offense could be slowed down again. Adding to Wake Forest’s offense woes is the loss of their top WR Greg Dortch who sustained an abdominal injury last week which has him shelved for the season. Dortch has 10 catches against Louisville last Saturday and leads the team with 53. To illustrate how huge of a loss that is, the second leading receiver is sophomore Scotty Washington who has 17.
I can’t see any reason at this point to do anything but hop on the Notre Dame train in situations like this where the opponent boasts neither a dominant offense or defense. As mentioned above, their score differential in all of their wins this season has exceeded the current line of -14 by at least six points every time. Eight games into the season, Notre Dame has not shown a single sign of let down or look-ahead so there’s no reason to expect that here. Fundamentals, situationals and seemingly underpriced pointspread all point toward a play on Notre Dame here.