Widgets Magazine

Football predictions: Stanford vs. Notre Dame

No. 13 Stanford (9-2, 8-1) vs. No. 4 Notre Dame (10-1)

MichaelMugshotMichael Peterson: Stanford 34, Notre Dame 13

Stanford smells blood. Notre Dame has put together a valiant season, rising to No. 4 in the country despite losing its starting quarterback and running back to injuries in back-to-back weeks to open the season. But since losing to Clemson in early October, the Irish have played almost no one of note — they faced USC in the Trojans’ first week post-Sarkisian and their win over Temple has been devalued given that Temple was later blown out by South Florida. Last week, Notre Dame hung on to win despite its offense coughing the ball up five times.

On the other side, Stanford is humming along, consistently performing offensively every week. Yes, this game will most likely prove meaningless for the Cardinal… Unless Stanford puts an eye-opening beatdown on a potential Playoff team on primetime television to give itself at least an outside argument for a top-four spot heading into championship weekend, where who knows what might happen. The Cardinal have nothing to lose and everything to gain — a loss just officially affirms the already assumed fact that Stanford is out of Playoff contention, while a big win could send Stanford up into the top five or six. This class of seniors is 23-3 when playing at Stanford Stadium, and I expect them to go out with a load roar.

Winston Shi134x134Winston Shi: Stanford 34, Notre Dame 20

I’m torn on this prediction, because I think that Stanford has the advantage in this game at home, with a roster that’s healthy for the most part. And if Stanford has an advantage, we all know that David Shaw has to exploit it for all it’s worth: When it comes to the Playoff, two-loss Stanford has to absolutely ROCK Notre Dame. (And now that the Selection Committee has sent a warning to ND by moving it out of the top four, ND is out for blood against Stanford too.)

The thing is, Stanford can’t rock ND without scoring almost at will against it. We all want to say that the Cardinal can do just that, but despite last week’s injury to ND starting cornerback KeiVarae Russell, Notre Dame has a good defense. Navy and Clemson have great offenses and the Domers held them to 24 points each. ND also held USC — no slouches on O — to 31 points. The Irish played ugly against Boston College last week, but everybody plays ugly in Boston. And even if Notre Dame has played a lot of mediocre offenses, it has still crushed them all.

David Shaw doesn’t normally try to run up the score, but I think he’ll have to in this game. The question is: will he be able to do that? I’m not so sure ND will break that easily — I’m not sure it will break at all. The team’s fighting for a Playoff spot, too. I believe my predicting a two-score victory already counts as drinking the Kool-Aid. And while I believe Stanford is the better team, particularly at home, it’s not inconceivable (although it is improbable) that this game could be a two-score loss.

AndrewMatherheadshotAndrew Mather: Stanford 31, Notre Dame 24

By all obvious measures, Stanford and Notre Dame have absurdly similar records going into this game. If you exclude the Cardinal’s still-incomprehensible opening drop to Northwestern, each team’s only loss comes when it failed to force overtime by missing a 2-point conversion with under 10 seconds to go in regulation. What’s more, both teams beat USC, the only common opponent they’ve faced, by literally the exact same scoreline. It’s almost as if the gods of the college football world wanted to see what would happen if they pitted two identical teams against each other.

As has happened all too often this year, injuries may prove to be the key difference on Saturday. The most notable absence is that of Notre Dame starting running back C.J. Prosise, who is listed as doubtful after picking up a high ankle sprain last week against Boston College. I’m no doctor, but listing a player as “doubtful” for a high ankle sprain sounds to me like coach-speak for “he’s not playing, but let’s make them watch his film anyways.” Yet should Prosise show up anything less than 100 percent this weekend it should hurt the Irish tremendously — he’s been by far the most consistent offensive performer for Brian Kelly’s side this year, and I doubt backup Josh Adams has the experience to be an effective every-down back against the Stanford defense.

Notre Dame still has more than enough assets to keep things close, but I think the loss of Prosise breaks this theoretical tie in Stanford’s favor. If that weren’t enough, karma assuredly must catch the Irish at some point for thinking they could don these uniforms without consequences. Ultimately, all signs point to to Kevin Hogan’s last home start going the same way as his first and Stanford completing its fifth 10-win regular season in the last six years.

VihanheadshotVihan Lakshman: Stanford 34, Notre Dame 31

While a big Stanford win would obviously send a resounding message, such talk might be more than a little premature. Notre Dame is an extremely well-coached and talented group and by far the best team that Stanford will face this regular season. While the loss of Prosise will undoubtedly sting for the Irish, don’t sleep on backups Josh Adams and Dexter Williams having a big day behind one of the most experienced offensive lines in the nation. Quarterback DeShone Kizer will also be expected to contribute heavily in the run game and mobile quarterbacks have given the Cardinal some headaches this season. As Winston mentioned, the Domers’ defense held up extremely well against some top-tier offenses and will present a strong challenge all night long.

In a game that almost feels too close to call, home-field advantage tips the scale in Stanford’s favor. Playing for the final time in Stanford Stadium, Kevin Hogan looks poised for a big day and Stanford may very well take some shots early to test an already depleted Irish secondary sans KeiVarae Russell. In games shaping up to be close, turnovers often make the difference, and I like Stanford’s chances of taking care of the ball at home. Emerging from the tunnel in the black jerseys, Stanford rides another big day from Christian McCaffrey and a late defensive stop to turn the Irish away and earn a season-defining win.

DoheadshotDo-Hyoung Park: Stanford 24, Notre Dame 34

Although the numbers have certainly been there for Christian McCaffrey and the Stanford offensive line over the last few games, this Cardinal offense has seemed a lot less dynamic over the last few weeks, particularly in the passing game. Hogan seems to have lost touch on his deep passes and the offensive line has increasingly struggled to get good push on Stanford’s bread-and-butter power iso runs up the middle, and this Notre Dame defense, despite being ravaged by injuries, is as talented as they come due to the Irish’s ridiculous draw in recruiting.

Christian McCaffrey will have his chance to shine and cement a trip to New York on Saturday, but I think a stout Notre Dame defense will present the biggest challenge of the season to the stud sophomore, and Kevin Hogan has also had awful career numbers against Notre Dame (1 TD, 4 INT), which I can’t see improving given his lack of touch as of late. DeShone Kizer is a very dynamic dual-threat quarterback (26 total touchdowns), and with Stanford possibly down its best two cornerbacks, the Cardinal might very well have trouble bottling up the Notre Dame attack. Stanford is playing with nothing to lose and Notre Dame is playing with everything to lose; I think the Irish show up with a great game.

About The Daily Sports Staff

The Daily Sports Staff is the collective moniker of an overworked, beleaguered, underpaid collection of sportswriters that feel comfortable enough with their own self-identities to give up any sense of individualism for the good of the sports section. To contact The Daily Sports Staff, send an email to the managing editor(s) of the sports staff (sports 'at' stanforddaily.com), keepers of the souls of those sportswriters.
  • Wouter Dito

    It should be close and Notre Dame players will try to injure key Stanford players. Watch out.

  • Bret Caldwell

    Regardless of the outcome, it’s been a great season. I do take exception, however, to Mr. Parks’ “Stanford is playing with nothing to lose…” comment. Regardless of the long odds on making the playoffs, with every win they improve their historical record, Heisman ranking, and year-end ranking, which ultimately affects their short-term and long-term recruiting success. I suspect that Stanford will be playing with EVERYTHING to (ensure a) win.

  • Aaron Freeman

    I don’t care, I have faith! Go Cardinal!

  • Christian maccafry fan

    I believe! Go Stanford! (We already know that they’ll win!)

  • Jeff

    So Do and Vihan have traded places this week. This way, at least one of them is right. I say Stanford by two scores, maybe more. It should look roughly like the Cal game, with Stanford finally getting a defensive score. Notre Dame defense is tough, but Hogan plays an inspired game in his final home contest and outshines Kizer.

  • Clutch Card

    Spot on, Vihan.