The Notre Dame Fighting Irish, who have escaped three games with single-digit victories, hit the road for the first time this season for a tough matchup against the high-octane Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Saturday at noon ET. The eighth-ranked Irish are favored by 6.5 points in the latest Notre Dame vs. Wake Forest odds, while the over-under for total points scored is 59, up from an opening line of 55.5. SportsLine college football expert Zack Cimini is on a years-long streak picking the Deacons with success, so you'll want to hear what he has to say before making your own Notre Dame vs. Wake Forest picks.
The fast-rising Las Vegas prognosticator has turned a profit in every sport, but he's tremendously adept at picking spread winners in college football. And when it comes to ATS picks for or against Wake Forest, Cimini is a perfect 7-0.
In last season's Belk Bowl, Cimini confidently backed Texas A&M, a 3.5-point underdog against Wake. The Deacons won that game in a shootout, 55-52, allowing Cimini to cover and keep the streak alive. Now, he's laying it all on the line for Saturday.
While the offense garners the headlines, it's been Notre Dame's defense that has led the way to a 3-0 start.
The unit -- which returns nine starters including senior LB Te'Von Conway (116 tackles in 2017) -- has held every opponent to just 16 or 17 points, including a heralded Michigan unit and an up-tempo Ball State squad. Against the Cardinals, the Irish defense was on the field for a whopping 97 plays but didn't break.
That's allowed junior QB Brandon Wimbush to work out some kinks as he grows with a WR unit that returns just two if its top five from a year ago. Wimbush has struggled this far, with just one TD and four INTs. But he torched the Demon Deacons last year for 280 yards passing and 110 yards rushing in a 48-37 victory. He threw for 16 TDs and just six INTs last year.
Just because Notre Dame has been playing solid defense doesn't mean they'll cover. Wake Forest has moved the ball against everyone it's faced so far. The Deacons average 278 yards passing and 264 yards rushing per game, 15th in the country.
Freshman dual-threat QB Sam Hartman has 834 yards passing. He's also run for 196 yards and a score, providing a 1-2 punch with senior RB Cade Carney (300 yards, 5.7 average). The young Deacons' defense has been victim to the long ball, including a pair of 50-plus TDs against Boston College last week, but Notre Dame hasn't been a big-play offense.
We can tell you Cimini is leaning toward the over, but he has uncovered a crucial X-factor that will determine which side of the spread hits hard. He's only sharing it over at SportsLine.
So which side of the spread should you back for Notre Dame at Wake Forest? And which crucial X-factor determines the outcome? Visit SportsLine now to see which side you need to be all over, all from the expert who's riding a perfect 7-0 streak on his Wake Forest picks.