Notre Dame Football: Five Things to Watch vs Wake Forest

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brian kelly notre dame

Notre Dame football fans got a nice treat in their Halloween bag when the College Football Playoff committee ranked them #3 Tuesday night. That’s higher than the Fighting Irish currently reside in either poll. It’s also pretty remarkable when you consider what the preseason expectations were for this team, coming off a disastrous 4-8 mark in 2016.

However, you can’t take the foot off the gas now as ND welcomes a very solid Wake Forest team to South Bend.

Here are five things to watch on Saturday.

notre dame football

Notre Dame Football Zeitgeist, Atmosphere Post Playoff Rankings

Obviously this is the lead, but remember the CFP rankings don’t mean a thing until late November/early December. They certainly don’t warrant their own television show, and even a five minute desk piece on this is kinda pushing it. Really, they work perfectly as a Tweet and a press release.

So why is there an entire television show for just this, then?

Because ESPN grossly overpaid for playoff broadcast rights, they’re bleeding money from that overpayment and now they need to desperately over-hype this thing in order to try and make up that ground. The Irish would be great for them, ratings wise, so Bristol is probably really happy the Irish came in third last night.

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ESPN College Football Final Analyst had Joey Galloway had ND #3, Jesse Palmer put them #5 in their weekly poll Saturday night.

Here are the top 6 playoff rankings
1. Georgia
2. Alabama
3. Notre Dame Football
4. Clemson
5. Oklahoma
6. Ohio State

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Irish Defense Against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons Playmakers

The Fighting Irish are lucky that they’ll miss out on having to defend Greg Dortch, who just set the school record for receiving TDs in a game (4), last week against Louisville. Then he got hurt and now he’s out for the season. This fact no doubt contributes to Vegas’ making Wake a two touchdown underdog.

Quarterback John Wolford tied the school record for passing touchdowns in that game with five.

“Scotty Washington is coming into his own, big, rangy wide receiver, 6’5″, you can see his confidence is growing,” said Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly as he described the WF receiving corps.

“He’s a guy that will be a match-up issue for us that we’ll have to account for. Obviously Dortch being out is a guy that you have to plan for defensively, but him being out, Tabari Hines is second on the team in receiving, so they plug in a very, very good player right behind them.”

notre dame football

Kelly on Wolford:

“Arguably probably the most experienced quarterback that we’ll play. Wolford has been in the system, has experienced the ups and downs and growing in this offensive system. Led them last week to over 600 yards, countered for five touchdowns, just really knows it very well. So that will certainly be a challenge for us.”

Josh Adams Heisman Hype Up Campaign

He’s got better numbers than Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, so why isn’t he considered the favorite to claim the Downtown Athletic Club Trophy? Well, once certain narratives take hold, it can take a line of category five fact storms to blow them out of the water. Barkley has certainly become a target at best, and an enemy at worst, of the Notre Dame football community. Do a Twitter search on Saturdays and you’ll see.

This despite the fact that the two teams haven’t even played recently and won’t play this season…unless it’s in a playoff game. Adams vs. Barkley is a whole separate article and we posted that over at this link.

josh adams

Keeping Everyone Healthy

Tight End Alizie Mack, QB Brandon Wimbush and Linebacker Nyles Morgan all got banged up last week, but the entire trio is healthy and ready to go. Obviously, the most important thing to accomplish Saturday afternoon, aside from a win, is to leave the stadium unscathed.

The 2015 Notre Dame football team spent a lot of time high up in the CFP rankings, but fell short of the final four. Why?

The injuries just kept piling up as the season went on and they eventually suffered that second loss, which is an eliminator.

Big on Big, Strength on Strength: ND OL vs Wake Forest’s First Round Talent

“Defensively, Duke Ejiofor, one of the best pass rushers that we’ve seen,” said Kelly.

“I think he’s got six and a half sacks, 14 tackles for loss, very loose and very mobile in terms of pass rush ability, can get to the quarterback. Really like his ability to get to the quarterback. We’ll have to keep an eye on him, whether we move it back over there or chip him. He’s somebody that we’ve got to keep an eye on.”

Ejiofor has the highest NFL Draft stock of anyone on the Demon Deacons, and he has first round potential. It will be very interesting to see what the two likely first round picks on the left side of the ND o-line, Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson, do against him.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now and Minute Media. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and Chicago Now.

Follow him on TwitterInstagramSound Cloud, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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