Week 12 – Wake Forest at Notre Dame

Posted Nov 14, 2012

Week 12 Fearless Prediction – Wake Forest at Notre Dame

Wake Forest (5-5) at Notre Dame (10-0) Nov. 17, 3:30, NBC

Here's The Deal: Notre Dame inched closer to a spot in the national championship game last Saturday, but it's still facing an uncertain path to Sun Life Stadium.

The Irish are now No. 3 in the BCS standings, courtesy of Alabama's improbable loss to Texas A&M. But they figure to be locked in at No. 3 as long as Oregon and Kansas State continue to remain unbeaten as well. The darlings of the computer models, Notre Dame has been unable to wow voters following a close call with 4-6 Pitt and last Saturday's uninspired 21-6 win over 2-8 Boston College. The reality in South Bend is that there's little the Irish can do to amass style points in the final two regular season games. They simply need to win out, and hope that someone can pick off the Ducks or the Wildcats.

Wake Forest will not be playing with house money in this first-ever visit to Notre Dame. A 37-6 loss to NC State last week ended that possibility. Instead, the Demon Deacons still need to win one of their final two games to become bowl eligible. They'll be an underdog for both, including next week's visit from Vanderbilt. This week's trip to South Bend to face one of the four remaining unbeaten programs affords Wake a chance to create a lasting memory in an otherwise forgettable campaign.

Why Wake Forest Might Win: As long as Notre Dame continues to have problems putting up points, lesser opponents will have a chance to pull the upset.

The Irish defeated Purdue, Michigan, Stanford, BYU and Pitt by an average of only 4.6 points because they only scored an average of 20 points in those victories. Bogged down by the nation's 90th-ranked passing game, Notre Dame has had problems running away and hiding from opponents, even when playing at home. For the Demon Deacons, it means that the upset will be in play even if the offense has trouble moving the sticks. A defensive score on an errant throw from Everett Golson or a big return on special teams is all that Wake Forest might need to put ND on the ropes in the second half.

Why Notre Dame Might Win: The Irish D is a bad matchup for a lot of opponents. For Wake Forest, it'll be next to impossible to navigate.

The Demon Deacons are flailing on offense lately, scoring six points last week, and having all kinds of problems at the point of attack. The staff tried different quarterbacks a week ago, but the results were the same—errant throws, stalled drives and pressures out of the pocket. The Irish are going to maul the Deacons at the point of attack. The battle in the trenches will be a mismatch, with linemen Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix III and Kapron Lewis-Moore moving the line of scrimmage backwards. Plus, LB Prince Shembo continues to step outside of the long shadow of Manti Te'o, racking up seven tackles for loss and five sacks in the last three games.

What To Watch Out For: Does Notre Dame have another Miami game left in it?

The Irish need to do to Wake Forest what they did to the Hurricanes back on Oct. 6, whipping them, 41-3. The defense should do its job, but can the offense click for all four quarters? The ground game will be fine, hitting the Demon Deacons with a combination of Theo Riddick, Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III. However, a true explosion will require Golson to provide a little more pop through the air. He's been steady since returning from a head injury, throwing just one pick in the last three games. Now, ND would like him to raise the consistency bar another rung higher before next week's trip to the Coliseum to face USC.

What Will Happen: Notre Dame will remain unblemished, but by how much will it win?

As long as there are three unbeaten national contenders, margin of victory will be scrutinized, especially in South Bend. The Deacons will not move the ball on the Irish, putting the upset out of reach early on. Think last week's Boston College game. However, Notre Dame will have more success with the ball than it did in Chestnut Hill, keeping the starters in for at least the first three quarters. The Irish will never be threatened in a comfortable win. Many voters will continue to be unimpressed.

CFN Prediction: Notre Dame 31 … Wake Forest 10
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Notre Dame -24 O/U: 44
Must Watch Rating (5 – Killing Them Softly, 1 – The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2): 3