Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-6 SU, 4-5 ATS) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-1 SU, 7-2 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date/Time: Saturday, November 14th, 3:30 PM EST
Where: Notre Dame Stadium
by Mike M., NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: WF +27 / ND -27
Over/Under Total: 51
Wake Forest heads five hours north to South Bend to take on Notre Dame in a Saturday afternoon battle of two schools similar in academic standard but near opposite in football success.
The Irish return home for Senior Day after nearly a month away from Notre Dame Stadium following a 42-30 win at Pittsburgh last week. Freshman quarterback DeShone Kizer had his best game of the season, completing 73% of his passes and throwing for 252 yards and a career high five touchdowns while also running for another score. His performance was especially important as Notre Dame star running back C.J. Prosise was injured and knocked from the game in the first quarter, and while freshman running back Josh Adams performed very well in his absence (147 yards rushing and a receiving touchdown), Kizer was the clear focal point of the offense and stepped up immensely with the weight of the team on his shoulders. He was especially helpful in helping the team turnaround its recent red zone difficulties by leading them to touchdowns on all four of their trips inside the twenty yard line while also taking well advantage of the Panthers questionable decision to single cover superstar wide receiver Will Fuller, getting him the ball seven times for 142 yards and three touchdowns. Fuller now has 900 yards receiving and twelve touchdowns on the year and with his performance against Pitt passed Golden Tate and Jeff Samardzija to move into second all-time in Irish history for touchdown receptions.
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The win by Notre Dame along with losses by LSU, Michigan State, TCU and Memphis seemingly put the Irish in control of their own destiny toward earning a spot for this years college football playoffs. Their only loss was by two points to number one Clemson in a near-monsoon and if all continues to fall into place, their regular season finale against 8-1 Stanford is shaping up to essentially be a playoff quarterfinal game with the winner getting a berth in college footballs final four.
As of now Clemson, Ohio State and Alabama are slated for the first three playoff slots and all three will be favored in their remaining regular season games and respective conference championships. If that trio holds serve as expected, it would leave undefeateds Iowa, Baylor and Oklahoma State amongst the Cardinal and Irish for the last remaining spot. Iowa avoided the best of the Big Ten on their schedule this year but havent looked that impressive against the middle of the pack, which they will have to improve on quickly as they close out the year on the road against a Nebraska team that will be 5-6 at game time and and playing hard for a win they will need to gain bowl eligibility. The Big 12 still has two contenders, Baylor and Oklahoma State, but the conference was hurt last year due to a lack of a championship game and could again be judged negatively because of it. Both also still have a treacherous schedule to conquer in the final month of the year including a game against each other next week in Stillwater, with Baylor still having to play Oklahoma, at TCU and Texas while the Cowboys still have to get past Baylor and Oklahoma.
Notre Dame has two games remaining before their season finale against Stanford, and while Wake Forest and Boston College struggle offensively (Wake is 111th, BC 127th), both teams are well coached, strong defensively and Brian Kelly will be all over his team to make sure they arent looking past the ACC cellar dwellers toward their Thanksgiving weekend game against Stanford. The Demon Deacons rank 32nd in the NCAA in total defense but have struggled to cause turnovers with only three interceptions and four fumble recoveries on the season so far, which has a lot to do with the teams turnover margin of -11 that puts them at 121st in the country in turnover margin.
The offense hasnt helped much either, especially in their last game, a 20-19 loss to Louisville where the offense turned the ball over five times in the second half destroying any chance the team had of pulling off the upset. Wake Forests quarterbacks John Wolford and Kendall Hinton have both added to the problem with each throwing more interceptions than touchdowns this season while also completing less than 60% of their passes. Hinton is also the teams leading rusher in yards and touchdown scored, and combined with Wolford account for eight of the teams nine rushing touchdowns which speaks volumes about the glaring hole that is the Demon Deacon non-existent backfield. With stats like that its easy to see why the team ranks 119th in rushing and 116th in points scored. Going into this year Wake Forest had seen a progressive decline in their record since going 6-7 in 2011, winning one less game then the previous four seasons in a row. With the football struggling to only three wins on the season so far and games remaining against Notre Dame, Clemson and Duke, it doesnt appear like Wake will be changing their athletic reputation as the place where Tim Duncan went anytime soon.
The point spread for this weeks game between Notre Dame and Wake Forest currently stands at 27. This will be the fifth time since 2012 that Wake will be getting 27 or more points and the previous four definitely did not go well for the Deacons, as the team lost by a combined 210-13 with the smallest margin of defeat being 40. Before this season I would have been very hesitant to give that many points with Notre Dame, as the Irish were 3-10 against the line in their last thirteen games as a double digit favorite including 2-8 at home. This season has been a whole different story for Notre Dame though, and despite Prosise joining the long line of injured Irish starters the team still looks stacked and ready for a strong end to what has been resiliently successful season for the South Bend faithful. Notre Dame has covered in their last five home games while Wake has covered just once in their last seven on the road. The trends continue.
Mikes Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Notre Dame -27
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