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Tradition Tuesday: Wake Forest

Nov 13, 2012, 9:05 AM EDT

The Irish celebrate Tyler Eifert's 38-yard touchdown at Wake Forest in 2011. The Irish celebrate Tyler Eifert's 38-yard touchdown at Wake Forest in 2011.

Well, there’s not much to discuss in the way of “Tradition Tuesday” this week.

There is no rivalry trophy, no string of last-second finishes, and no comparison between the universities’ football accomplishments. Wake Forest’s athletic program is probably most known for producing NBA stars Tim Duncan and Chris Paul, rather than Heisman Trophy winners.

The Fighting Irish and Demon Deacons have only met once on the football field (last November).

Tommy Rees threw a pair of touchdown passes, and Jonas Gray ran for another, as Notre Dame won in Winston-Salem, 24-17.

This season, Notre Dame and Wake Forest enter the game with very different aspirations. At 10-0, the Fighting Irish are part of the national championship conversation. On the other hand, the Demon Deacons are 5-5, seeking to spoil Notre Dame’s perfect season, and earn a spot in a bowl game for the second consecutive year.

Though the football programs couldn’t be more different, there are a few connections between the institutions. Like Notre Dame, Wake Forest is a small private university. With an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 4,400, it’s about half the size of Notre Dame. It is the third-smallest FBS school and the smallest in a BCS automatic-qualifier conference.

Wake Forest University president Nathan O. Hatch joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1975 and also served as the provost from 1996-2005. After spending 30 years in South Bend, Dr. Hatch began his current appointment in Oct. 2005.

Notre Dame Vice President/Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick‘s oldest son is a 2011 Wake Forest graduate. Head football equipment manager Ryan Grooms was a student manager for Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe while at Ohio University. Before coming to Notre Dame in 2006, assistant media relations director Michael Bertsch worked in a similar capacity at Wake Forest.

It doesn’t have the history of next week’s matchup at USC, but to date, it’s the biggest game of the 2012 season. That’s how it works when you’re undefeated, no matter the opponent.

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