Notre Dame vs. Stanford prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins between the Fighting Irish and Cardinal on Saturday in South Bend, IN.
Notre Dame vs. Stanford Game Preview
When: Saturday, Oct. 15 – 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN
TV Broadcast: NBC
The Fighting Irish are in midst of a disastrous season that very likely could feature no postseason berth. Brian Kelly’s squad fell to 2-4 with the loss at NC State in a game that was played in treacherous conditions because of Hurricane Matthew and with the start of the second half being delayed because of lightning. After allowing at least 489 total yards to each one of its Power Five opponents, ND gave up just 198 to the Wolfpack. However, the offense managed just 113 total yards. It was, of course, an aberration because of the horrid conditions—the offense is still good, while the defense remains very porous.
Meanwhile, the Cardinal are dealing with their own nightmarish season, as David Shaw’s squad is coming off of back-to-back losses to Washington and Washington State. Stanford is the defending Pac-12 champion and was picked by a lot of college football observers to compete for a College Football Playoff berth. Now, the team is just looking to regroup and claim a victory.
In last year’s meeting between these two teams, the Cardinal rallied in Palo Alto to knock Notre Dame out of the College Football Playoff picture. Kevin Hogan threw four touchdown passes and drove his team down the field for a game-winning, 45-yard field goal by Conrad Ukropina on the last play of a 38-36 win.
What To Know About Notre Dame
The Irish wish they can press the “Rewind” button on the season, as they have dropped four of their first six games and essentially bottomed out last week against NC State by converting just one of their 15 third-down opportunities. As a whole, the offense has been productive, though. It’s the defense that has been a disaster. Although it looked good against the Wolfpack, it was aided by the bad playing conditions. Notre Dame relieved defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder of his duties, but the lack of a pass rush and an inexperienced secondary will likely plague the Irish for the remaining part of a season that will only get more difficult, as games against teams such as Miami, Virginia Tech and USC still loom.
What to Know About Stanford
Shaw’s team is losing battles in the trenches, and that’s concerning because that has rarely, if ever, been an issue since during his tenure. The offense was unable to do much of anything the last two weeks in losses to the Pac-12’s Washington schools, and the defense was overwhelmed as well with its starting cornerbacks shelved because of injury. The offensive line was dominated, with the Cougars recording four sacks after the Huskies had eight the previous week. Right now, Stanford football is a shell of its former self, so Shaw has to figure out how to right the ship before it sinks.
Offense: Notre Dame. Shaw’s squad has O-Line issues, while DeShone Kizer is going to be one of the first quarterbacks selected in the NFL Draft one day.
Defense: Stanford. The Cardinal allowed Luke Falk to throw for 357 yards and four touchdowns last week, but its funk does not compare to the season-long slump that has plagued the Irish defense.
Special Teams: Even. Ukropina, who has been Mr. Reliable as Stanford’s kicker, missed two field goals last week. That’s how bad it has been for the Cardinal. But ND has its own woes in kickoff coverage.
Coaching: Even. Neither Shaw nor Kelly has shined this season.
Intangibles: Even. Both teams are hurting and thirsting for a victory.
Matchup To Watch
Christian McCaffrey vs. His health
The multi-threat star missed much of the second half of the 42-16 loss to Washington State and is expected to be re-evaluated during the week. Shaw did not disclose much to the media after the game, saying only that McCaffrey was banged up but that there was no reason to put him back in late in the game. The running back made a visit to the locker room in the third quarter before returning to the bench. He had just eight carries for 35 yards and one reception for 5 yards, which were all season lows. In five games, he has 99 carries for 520 yards and three touchdowns, 18 receptions for 154 yards and one score, and 267 yards on kick/punt returns. He’s one of the best players in the country and will need to be at full strength to take advantage of a very giving ND defense. If he is less than 100 percent, it instantly makes the Stanford offense much less potent.
Spread: Notre Dame -2.5
Over/Under: No over/under as of post
Notre Dame vs. Stanford Prediction
Can both teams lose this game? That’s how bad it has been in South Bend and Palo Alto, as the two programs struggle to get back on track. Kizer should have a big game against a wounded Stanford secondary, but Ryan Burns should find plenty of open passing lanes against the equally porous ND defensive backfield. It’s a night game in South Bend, so that is advantageous to the Irish. But they also lost at home to Duke, although that game wasn’t at night. A C.J. Sanders kickoff return for a touchdown after a Stanford score shifts the momentum in a close Notre Dame victory.
Notre Dame vs. Stanford Score Prediction: Notre Dame 33, Stanford 30