Notre Dame’s game with Stanford serves as an elimination game for both teams. The top 10 match up is the crown jewel of Saturday’s schedule along with Ohio State at Penn State.
Unlike the Buckeyes and Nittany Lions, the Irish and Cardinal need this game on their resume or dreams of getting into the College Football Playoffs might be dead.
As the rankings currently stand, the Irish do not face another top 25 team nevertheless, a top 10 team.
What once looked like showcases, games at Virginia Tech and home to Florida State have lost its luster. The Hokies lost to Old Dominion. The Monarchs are a relative baby in terms on being FBS. The Seminoles are a mess. They have an opening night loss to the Hokies and a horrible 30-7 loss to Syracuse. The Orange will have a shot at the Irish in November.
Stanford’s isn’t much better but they have a little reprieve with a loss. They still have 11th ranked Washington on the schedule, at Cal (who is currently ranked 24th) and the Pac-12 Championship game if they qualify but neither team an depend on this.
The Irish will be riding some momentum from Ian Book’s huge game against Wake Forest. Book’s skillset opens up the offense for the Irish. Whereas, Brandon Wimbush made big plays with his legs or off script plays with his arm, Book allows Coach Brian Kelly to get plays out of its original design. Book finished 25 of 34 for 325 yards and two touchdowns. As the passing game opened up, the rushing lanes followed behind it. The Irish ran for 241 yards on Saturday.
Notre Dame should have Dexter Williams back this weekend. Williams provides the Irish a big play back who can go the distance on any play.
I think he’s explosive. I think he gets into the second level, and he’s an explosive back. You know, does he have 20 carries in him this week? Probably not, but I think he can be integrated within a backfield that is emerging and getting better each and every week. But I would just answer your question, I think that explosiveness, especially at the second level, I think he adds very nicely to that. – Coach Brian Kelly
Stanford is coming off a miracle win, of sorts, against Oregon. Down 24-7 at halftime, the Cardinal outscored the Ducks 31-7 in the second half/OT for the win. “I think any time you’re down 24-7 I think it was, just the grit of a football team that hangs in there and keeps playing, you know, and that’s hallmark of Coach Shaw’s teams” said Kelly.
Cardinal running back, Bryce Love, is the household name but the Irish defense will be focused on stopping quarterback, KJ Costello. The junior quarterback has tossed 10 touchdown passes this season. In the first two Pac-12 games, USC and Oregon, Costello has yet to throw an interception.
Stanford should come into the game with plenty of confidence coming into the game. In the last nine meetings, the Cardinal have won seven of them. Out of the seven losses, Notre Dame was ranked four of those times.