Well. It was about time Notre Dame had a game like this against one of the poorer opponents on the schedule. After struggling with Pitt and failing to destroy Boston College, Notre Dame finally took out the whooping stick on the poor Wake Forest Demon Deacons. Notre Dame jumped on Wake early and often, and was up 21-0 by the end of the first quarter. It never looked back en route to a 38-0 romping.
Wake put the ball in the air 35 times, completing 23 of those throws for an anemic 154 yards. They managed only 55 more yards on the ground. It was a complete domination by the Notre Dame defense. They left nowhere for Wake to go with the ball, and forced Wake to try to keep alive by working the margins of the football field.
A large reason why this strategy had no hope was the ease at which Notre Dame's offense piled up points against the Deacon defense. Quarterback Everett Golson ripped the Deacon secondary apart, completing 20 of his 30 attempts for a staggering 346 yards and three touchdowns. Wake came into the game with a defensive plan to sell out against the run, and Golson took advantage of all the opportunities this strategy gave him in the secondary.
The bad news for Wake is that they didn't even do that good a job stopping the run, either. Cierre Wood's 68 yard break away run does skew the stats a little bit, but even without that run, the Irish still averaged over five a carry. After the first half onslaught of points that left Wake Forest down 31-0, Notre Dame spent the second half contentedly running the ball over and over until the game was concluded.
Notre Dame's blow out win meant more than just a routine stomping of a future ACC conference opponent, however. Thanks to Oregon finally playing a defense with a pulse and thanks to Kansas State inexplicably getting set on fire by Baylor, Notre Dame finds itself the lone unbeaten, eligible team in America. After a year of weathering an avalanche of insults about the lack of STYLE POINTS in Notre Dame victories, Notre Dame has clawed its way to the top of the college football world. The Irish are the undisputed number one team in the nation.
As it turns out, having more style points is less important than having more actual points on the score board than your opponent does every week. Oregon, in particular, had a vast number of blow outs on its record going into yesterdays game with Stanford, but not a single win over a team with a defense worthy of a major conference contender. The weakness of most of their Pac 12-mates combined with a laughable out of conference schedule resulted in a team that looked fantastic as long as you didn't really think about them all that much.
And that probably explains why they were so popular with the human pollsters in the first place. But many teams have tried to game the system in the past 15 years with outrageously bad schedules, and it tends to backfire. We have rarely had to deal with TOO MANY undefeated teams. The big debate usually comes down to WHICH ONE LOSS TEAM DESERVES THIS MORE, and the strength of schedule usually ends up weeding out the Oregons of the world.
For now, Alabama looks to be back in the national title game. They will have to face hapless in-state rival Auburn, and then Georgia in the SEC title game. This is college football, so the most fitting thing would probably be Auburn getting its lone SEC win of the season against the Tide. And the Georgia Bulldogs could always upset Alabama
But barring unforeseen consequences or a Mark Richt conference title, it looks like Alabama will get the chance to carry the SEC banner into another BCS title game. Notre Dame will face Alabama, and we will all get to see just how good Alabama can play against a truly elite defense.
As long as Notre Dame beats USC, that is.
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