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Irish Insights


Wake Forest-Notre Dame preview

Notre Dame will try to go unbeaten at home for the first time since 1998 when the No. 3 Irish (10-0) play host to Wake Forest (5-5) at 3:30 p.m. today.

Here are three key matchups to watch for in the Senior Day game:

Notre Dame center Braxston Cave vs. Wake Forest nose guard Nikita Whitlock: The Demon Deacons' Whitlock is not a typical, space-filling nose guard. Whitlock is 5-foot-11, 265 pounds and relies on his quickness to get around lineman. The junior has 41 tackles with 4 ½ for loss. The 6-3, 304-pound Cave has the strength and size advantage, but he will need to be very quick to get his hands on Whitlock after snapping the ball to keep the nose guard in check.

Notre Dame linebacker Danny Spond vs. Wake Forest receiver Michael Campanaro: The Deacons 5-11, 195-pound slot receiver gave the Irish fits last season in Notre Dame's 24-17 win at Winston-Salem, N.C. Campanaro caught six passes for 174 yards, and he comes into today's game 21 receptions in his last two games. Irish linebacker Danny Spond has proven he can drop into coverage this season, getting one interception and breaking up three passes. He will need to be able to keep up with Campanaro today.

Notre Dame's receivers vs. Wake Forest's secondary: The Irish come into today's game missing DaVaris Daniels, whose broken clavicle will keep him out until the bowl game. Daniels had become a threat in the passing game recently, and his 25 receptions for 375 yards will be missed. Notre Dame will turn to Bishop Dwenger grad John Goodman, Roby Toma and freshman Chris Brown to make up for Daniels' absence, and the Irish will also move TJ Jones around more in the formation. All the receivers will be challenged by an active Wake Forest secondary. Starting cornerbacks Chibuikem Okoro and Kevin Johnson have combined for four interceptions and 16 breakups, and starting safeties A.J. Marshall and Daniel Mack have combined for two interceptions and five breakups.

Prediction: Notre Dame 24, Wake Forest 3