No. 16 Notre Dame (9-2) will look to stay hot when it travels to Stanford (4-7) this weekend. The Irish have won four straight games, and the last three victories have been by at least 31 points. If Notre Dame keeps its momentum going and beats Stanford it would give the Irish ten wins in back-to-back regular seasons for the first time since 1988-89.
Notre Dame will look to reestablish control over a rivalry that has been dominated by Stanford for the last decade. Stanford owns a 7-3 record over the Irish in the last ten years, but Notre Dame beat the Cardinal 38-17 last fall. A win Saturday will be Notre Dame’s first two-game win streak over Stanford since it won seven straight from 2002 to 2008.
It would also give Notre Dame its first road win over Stanford since 2007.
Now that the stakes have been laid out, it’s prediction time.
Notre Dame 34, Stanford 6
If the current weather projections hold up it will be a cold and rainy afternoon in Northern California. In theory that should benefit Notre Dame. Stanford has an abysmal run game and has relied on its pass attack all season. Sloppy conditions could be incredibly detrimental to a Stanford offense that is already out-matched.
Even though Notre Dame’s defensive line is banged up it should be able to shut down the Stanford ground attack. If Notre Dame can get any kind of pass rush the Cardinal should have a difficult time moving the chains and putting the ball in the end zone.
On the other side of the ball, how well Notre Dame can run the football will have a major impact on how close this game will be. Notre Dame had a terrible rain game plan against Michigan, so hopefully the staff learned its lesson and is better prepared to establish a potent ground attack should the weather dictate that.
The quarterback play was also poor for Notre Dame the last time it played in the rain, but Ian Book has been better in recent weeks. If Book can make plays with his legs, protect the football and be willing (and able) to attack Stanford down the field the Irish could roll in this game.
That loss to Michigan has certainly put a stain on this season, but finishing the regular season with a thumping of Stanford will help erase that, at least to some degree. Stanford being as bad as it has been takes some of the impact away from this game, but considering the history of this series it is important nonetheless.
Notre Dame should dominate this game, and if it does it will end the season with four straight blowout wins, which should give the program major momentum going into bowl season.