Notre Dame took care of business against Wake Forest, but it didn’t look pretty in the second half. Here's a rundown.
What I liked: The Irish raced out to a 21-0 lead in the first half powered by touchdown runs from Deshone Kizer and Josh Adams and a pick-6 by Andrew Trumbetti. Kizer’s TD capped a 67-yard drive highlighted by third-down conversions to Amir Carlisle on and Torii Hunter, Jr. The second touchdown resulted from an interception by Andrew Trumbetti in Wake Forest territory, returning it 28 yards for the score. The last touchdown of the half was the longest play from scrimmage in Notre Dame football history, an explosive 98-yard run by freshman Josh Adams.
What I didn't like: At the half, it looked like the Irish had the game well in hand and we would get a look at some of the seniors and walk-ons who have labored behind the scenes on the practice squad for many years. But it wasn’t to be as the Irish lost their focus and let the Demon Deacons back into the game on an 11-play, 55-yard drive midway through the third quarter. The Irish defense was on the field most of the game, with Wake having possession of the football for 35 minutes. Wake’s offense was prolific, accumulating 340 total yards compared to 282 for the Irish. Even though the Irish defense gave up 23 first downs, it held when it counted and gave Kizer and the offense a chance to put the nail in the coffin with the fourth touchdown in the fourth quarter to go up 28-7.
Playoff implications: The Irish cannot continue to play down to their competition if they want to be taken seriously by the College Football Playoff committee. The Big 12 has a legitimate case to be included this year after being left out last year.
In my opinion, the round robin format by the Big 12 really isn’t telling at all since it is a circular reference. TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma State did not play any nonconference games of significance yet for some reason were all ranked in the top-10 at some point this season. Oklahoma has played a few significant nonconference foes, but they lost to a mediocre Texas team (who Notre Dame destroyed in the opening weekend) and beat an irrelevant SEC foe in Tennessee.
What's next: The Irish have one more chance to impress the committee against Stanford, which didn’t help Notre Dame with their loss to Oregon last weekend. For now, ND is 9-1 and still alive. Up next is Boston College at historic Fenway Park.