Notre Dame Last Big Statement
Posted Nov 28, 2013

Week 14 Fearless Prediction & Preview - Notre Dame at Stanford

Notre Dame (8-3) at Stanford (9-2) Nov. 30, 7:00, Fox

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Notre Dame and Stanford renew acquaintances on the Farm, adding another chapter to a budding rivalry that's run uninterrupted since 1997.

The Cardinal received a gift from Arizona last week, an upset of Oregon that propelled the defending champs back into the Pac-12 title game, where South Division champion Arizona State awaits. No. 9 Stanford has missed its mark in 2013, losing twice to unranked opponents, Utah and USC, to fall out of the national title chase. Still, the school is a win next week away from back-to-back league championships and a fourth consecutive BCS bowl game.

The Irish, too, could have been in the BCS bowl debate this week had it not been for a loss to Pitt three weeks ago. Yeah, it's been a rocky year in South Bend as well, but No. 25 Notre Dame boasts wins over Michigan State, Arizona State and USC with Ed Orgeron at the helm. The program still has a crack at 10 wins if it can deliver the upset this Saturday evening.

Why Notre Dame Might Win: Cal aside, opponents have been able to keep the Stanford offense in check this season. The Cardinal has played in so many tight games because its D is ornery, but also because its offense sputters and its passing game lacks pop. The Irish only allow 22 points a game, bolstered by the toughness and range of DE Stephon Tuitt and linebackers Carlo Calabrese, Prince Shembo, Dan Fox and Jaylon Smith.

Why Stanford Might Win: Everyone has a tough time scoring on the Cardinal. Notre Dame doesn't figure to be any different. QB Tommy Rees is too inconsistent to solve a veteran unit littered with stars at every level and allowing a Pac-12-low 19 points a game. Making the situation even tougher, the Irish will play their second game without starting C Nick Martin, so it'll be even tougher thwarting the pressure of DE Henry Anderson and linebackers Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov.

Who To Watch Out For: Stanford QB Kevin Hogan lit up Cal last week, but how will he perform this week against a decent defense? Hogan has been up-and-down in his second year, though it'll help having access to WR Ty Montgomery to help bail him out.

- The Irish can forget about running the ball on Stanford, which is giving up 90 yards a game and less than three yards a carry. The pressure is on Rees, who'll get little breathing room from the Cardinal pass rush or its secondary.

- This is one of those games that Notre Dame is really going to miss Louis Nix, who's out for the year. Starting in his place will be Kona Schwenke, who'll be asked to slow down plowing Stanford RB Tyler Gaffney, one of the Pac-12's three 1,000-yard rushers.

What Will Happen: This is a tough spot for Notre Dame, which lacks the offensive diversity, and its best interior defensive lineman, that's needed to upset Stanford. The Cardinal will methodically wear down the Irish, getting tough yards from Gaffney and takeaways from the defense to never be seriously threatened past halftime.

Prediction: Stanford 31 … Notre Dame 17
Line: Stanford -14.5 o/u: 49
Must See Rating: (5 American Hustle – 1 The Sound of Music Live!) … 3.5
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