Wake Forest at No. 3 Notre Dame
Location: South Bend, Ind.
Venue: Notre Dame Stadium
Wake Forest: 5-5, 3-5 ACC (Lost to NC State 37-6)
Notre Dame: 10-0 (Beat Boston College 21-6)
Series history: The Fighting Irish won the only meeting between the two programs 24-17 in Winston-Salem last season.
What is on the line? Wake is still looking for its sixth win to become bowl-eligible, while ND is chasing an undefeated season and spot in the BCS National Championship game.
Quotes of the week
"I don't think they overlook us. They're playing great against every team, so I think they're going to prepare for us like they prepare for every team every week and try to take it to us." - Wake Forest fullback/H-Back Tommy Bohanon
"I think it's kind of cool that you're going in to play the third-ranked team in the country depending on what poll you're looking at, but I think it's fun to go play at a place like Notre Dame, to go to South Bend and play football. With them being ranked as high as they are I think it makes it a little more exciting. I think we'll be motivated. If you're not fired up to go play Notre Dame now you just go need to pick another sport." - Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe
Keys to the game
1) Keep 'em guessing
The one way to stay a step ahead of Notre Dame's dominant defense is to knock the Fighting Irish off balance.
"They rely on their athletic ability to make plays," Wake Forest right tackle Colin Summers said. "They blitz some, but really they just play straightforward and they just get after it. That's they're biggest thing. They really get after it up front from what I've seen.
Summers and the rest of the offensive linemen must hold their blocks, and hope the Irish over pursue.
Irish Illustrated's Pete Sampson alluded to Manti Te'o's ineffectiveness against Pittsburgh and Boston College, sighting the Panthers and Eagles use of misdirection.
Wake Forest offensive coordinator Steed Lobotzke is no stranger to misdirection; however, those plays will need time to develop, which ND's defense does not allow much of.
"I thought we played really poorly at NC State, and I thought they did a nice job," Grobe said. "They put a lot of pressure on Tanner [Price]. We couldn't get them blocked up front and that poses a problem for us at Notre Dame, because I think Notre Dame has one of the best defensive fronts in the country. But sometimes you find that your matchups are a little better in certain situations, and whether that proves to be useful this Saturday we'll find out."
2) Confuse Golson
Brian Kelly has not hesitated to replace Everett Golson with Tommy Rees if the redshirt freshman quarterback is not meeting his expectations.
Golson has completed 131-226 passes for 1,572 yards, eight touchdowns to four interceptions, and has rushed 79 times for 258 yards and five touchdowns. The dual-threat Palmetto State product will gash the Demon Deacons if given time.
"He [Golson] really trusts his receivers," Wake Forest free safety A.J. Marshall said. "Whether they're covered up or not he's going to try to make the throw, because he trusts that his receivers will make the catch. Like [Tyler] Eifert, the big tight end that they have, he attacks the ball well while it's in the air. They have guys that are very capable. Cierre Wood coming out of the backfield also helps him and his passing game a lot whether it's play-action or screens."
Marshall said Golson's mobility adds stress to the defense, and said the Deacs will be fine if they execute defensive coordinator Brian Knorr's calls. Unfortunately for Wake it will likely take more than that.
Wake Forest absolutely cannot have turnovers, but must force them if it hopes to be in this week's winning column.
Turnover margin has been in Wake's favor most of this season, and that trend must continue Saturday.
"What Notre Dame's done such a good job of this year is take care of the turnover ratio," Grobe said. "Last year I think their football team had, their offensive football team had like 38 turnovers or something and I think they've only got something like 10 or 12, 13, something like that this year, so that's been a big improvement on their part. And the defense is forcing a lot of turnovers. I think they've only lost the turnover battle twice this year and both of those games were close games. That's probably been the biggest difference."
"We want to take the ball away. We want to have more big plays. We want to have more sacks, more tackles for loss, more interceptions; more caused fumbles than they get big plays against us, things that are really tangible things going into the game. If they have 14 big plays you want to have 15."
4) Price to Campanaro
Price completed 18-33 passes for anemic 113 yards, no touchdowns and an interception, while Michael Campanaro made five receptions for an abysmal 14 yards. For Wake to have a chance at doing the impossible the output from this usually dynamic duo must improve dramatically.
5) Luck of the Irish
Indulgences, Hail Mary's and Touchdown Jesus cannot save the Deacs, but Wake Forest needs every good bounce and break it can get and for Notre Dame to get all of the bad ones if it is going to pull off the upset and ruin the Fighting Irish bid for a undefeated season and a national championship.