Notre Dame vs. Stanford 2018: Game Primer

It’s a Top Ten matchup in South Bend! The highest ranked team since 2009, the #7 Stanford Cardinal, will be visiting Notre Dame Stadium for a monumental matchup. Both teams are 4-0 and coming off impressive performances. The Fighting Irish haven’t beaten the Cardinal since 2014 but are looking to change the narrative this Saturday.

Essential Game Info:

  • Game Time: September 29th at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC
  • Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
  • Matchup: Notre Dame is 19-13 all-time against the Stanford Cardinal (last year Stanford won 38-20)
  • Current Odds: Notre Dame -3.0
  • GameDay Events: The Pep Rally will take place Friday at 6:00 p.m. at Eddy Street Commons. For more GameDay events visit

South Bend Weather Forecast

The current forecast for GameDay shows a 50 % chance of rain with a high of 69 degrees and a low of 56. Below is a look at the next 5 days leading up to the game (this will automatically update to be the most recent 5 days throughout the week).

[wunderground location=”South Bend, IN” numdays=”5″ layout=”simple”]

Stanford Details:

  • Conference: PAC-12 (North Division)
  • Head Coach: David Shaw
  • 2018 Record: 4-0
  • 2017 Record: 9-5

Stanford Storylines:

Stanford is coming off a top-20 Road Win. This past weekend the Cardinal were tested in a major way. Down by 17 points on the road against the 20th ranked Oregon Ducks, Stanford pulled off a big win in overtime. Stanford has experience in hostile environments and in dealing with adversity when they visit the Irish. The Fighting Irish, however, present a whole different set of challenges than the Oregon Ducks.

The Stanford Cardinal have dominated Notre Dame. Not only are the Cardinal on a 3-game Series winning streak, they have won 7 of the last 9 meetings. The only two wins for Notre Dame were an overtime goal-line stand, and a 3-point victory. Long story short, David Shaw knows how to win against the Irish.

Key Players for Saturday’s Matchup. K.J. Costello had a great game against the Irish last fall and is the starting quarterback once again. This season Costello is 73 for 114 (64%) for 1,056 yards, with 10 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. On the ground he has 7 carries for -21 yards.  He is not a major dual-threat.

Heisman Runner-Up. Along with a good quarterback, the Cardinal return the second-best player in the country from a season ago. Though he hasn’t been healthy this year, Bryce Love has still rushed for 254 yards on 59 carries with 2 touchdowns. Last week he had 19 rushes for 89 yards, even though he wasn’t 100%.

Enormous Receivers. Stanford is headlined by JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Kaden Smith, and Trenton Irwin. Whiteside, standing at 6-3, has 17 receptions for 408 yards and 7 touchdowns. Smith is 6-5 with 18 receptions and 258 receiving yards. Finally, Irwin is 6-2 and has 15 receptions for 127 yards. The Notre Dame Defense will be facing their toughest test of the entire season.

Notre Dame Storylines:

Can Ian Book lead the Irish to a victory? Last weekend against the Demon Deacons, Book went 25 for 34, with 2 touchdowns, and 325 passing yards. On the ground he had 10 rushing attempts for 43 yards and 3 touchdowns. Yes, it was Wake Forest, but it was an impressive performance. Book’s running ability is extremely underrated. Is he as fast as Wimbush? No, but he is a better runner than most quarterbacks in the country.

Believe it or not, Ian Book has experience. Last season he led Notre Dame to a victory over North Carolina on the road. He also led a come from behind win against the LSU Tigers in the Citrus Bowl. There is no doubt that he will be starting this weekend, his ability to get the football to playmakers takes the Irish Offense to the next level.

Dexter Williams is back. It’s official, Notre Dame’s projected #1 running back has finished his suspension and will be ready for the Stanford Cardinal. On a positive note, his absence has helped get a lot of reps for young running backs such as Tony Jones Jr., Jafar Armstrong, and Avery Davis.

Each week the Notre Dame Offensive line has improved. The running game, which was once averaging just a few yards per carry, averaged 5.1 yards against Vanderbilt and 6 yards per rush against Wake Forest. The good news is that Notre Dame has already faced a Michigan Defense so they will know what it takes to play against an elite defense.

Irish Defense gets their biggest test of the season. Last week, the Notre Dame Defense went up against an up-tempo Wake Forest Offense and played tremendous. Most of the defense was able to rest in the 4th quarter. Stanford will present countless obstacles for this defense to overcome. Even though the Irish will have their hands full, Clark Lea will have them prepared for a battle this Saturday Night.

Head to Head Matchups:

Notre Dame Offense vs. Stanford Defense: The Irish Offense finally had a breakout game on the road against the Demon Deacons. Through the first 3 games of the year Notre Dame was struggling to score touchdowns. It appears Ian Book will be the starting quarterback moving forward. Yet with only 1 game this season, it’s too difficult to tell if the Irish Offense will be elite.

Stanford Defenses are notorious for stopping Notre Dame. Cardinal Defenses love to load the box and force the quarterback to beat them. It has worked in the past, but with Ian Book at quarterback and the Irish running attack taking off, I have a tie.


Stanford Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: Stanford enters this matchup averaging 29 points per game. The Irish Defense is only giving up 19 points per game, and that number would be a little lower if they didn’t have to give their substitutes late time in the 4th quarter of the Wake Forest game. The Cardinal Offense has the Heisman runner up and an excellent quarterback in K.J. Costello.

Notre Dame has their work cut out for them against the Cardinal. The Irish Defense has experience and talent from the defensive line, to the linebackers, and secondary. Since this game is being played at home, it will help the Irish Defense. I have this matchup as a tie.


Special Teams: Stanford’s Kicker, Jet Toner, is 5 for 6 on the season. His counterpart, Justin Yoon, has made 5 of 7 field goal attempts. In the Special Teams Department last weekend, Chris Finke had the longest punt return for Notre Dame in 4 years.

Kickoffs, punting, and the return game have improved every week for Notre Dame. They will need every yard they can muster this week against Stanford. I have this matchup as a tie.


My Prediction:

The Stanford Cardinal know exactly how to beat the Irish. They’ve owned the Irish in recent memory. It seems like Stanford has their best game of the year against Notre Dame every year. After facing a loud crowd and a big road test last weekend, they will have experience heading into this monumental contest.

I believe this is the year that Notre Dame gets back on their winning way against Stanford. The Notre Dame defense will have a major test against Heisman runner up Bryce Love and the tall receivers of Stanford, but I believe with the crowd behind them, they will be up for the challenge.

Ian Book looked great against Wake Forest last week, but they are not the Stanford defense. If Book can make the simple passes and take the pressure off the Irish running game like he was able to last week, that will be a key to winning. His running ability is extremely underrated. I have the Irish winning this game by 3 points because of the Irish defense, the passing of Book, and the home crowd of Notre Dame Stadium that will be electric.

 Prediction: Notre Dame 27 Stanford 24

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  1. Stanford went to play undefeated Utah last year. Too say this was a hostile environment would be an understatement. Both teams at 4 and 0. I believe our O and D lines came of age. The play along the lines was brutal. I mean, it was a 60 minute war. It will be the same Saturday. I like our chances, but you never know. I say, “Fear the Tree.” Go Cardinal.

  2. Notre Dame can win if the wide receivers can create some separation – as well as the Irish played in Winston-Salem, this was still a problem – and Ian Book can deliver the long ball effectively. I vote for Michael Young going deep (no jet sweep) and Dexter Williams on a wheel route.

  3. Just about everything written on this page by MO and the (first) three posters is right on the mark. The stadium will be loud…as loud or even louder than Michigan, since both teams are top ten rated and undefeated. Even if a lot of people did not see this coming as a big game (BIG ON BIG as they used to say), a lot of people have been dreaming of this. If you have a ticket, your dreams are about to come true. But remember, it took a lot of very hard work by Stanford and ND players to make this happen…and never quit attitude by both teams and coaching staffs to get here.

    BGC ’77 ’82

  4. I say, “Fear the Tree.” Stanford has to do the following things to win. 1) Stay poised like they did in the 2nd half against Oregon .2) The O and D lines could very well determine the outcome. We went into a very hostile environment at Utah last year. Both teams undefeated. I believe our D line came of age in that game. 3)Make their QB beat us. They have tremendous speed with their receivers. Shut them down. 4) It will be a war. .

  5. Lets call for another Green out. that would be sweet to welcome the Cardinal with that. That was pure awesome energy right there. what an awesome atmosphere. if we can create that again, Stanford will have a hard time communicating and will work in our benefit. GO IRISH!!! and Welcome back Mr. Williams, you are needed this week

  6. This will be a turnover battle. Just as last week the Cardinal was getting walloped, then the Ducks choked and momentum turned. The Irish must play with reckless abandon to Win.

  7. love nothing more than to see the Irish beat stanford. ive been a huge notre dame fan my entire life..but lets be real..brian kelly has never won the big game.. he never will. the irish will do what they have always done. choke. do the fans a favor brian kellys contract off n hire urban Myers..

  8. IRISH will need that same electricity in the building we had for the Michigan game!! Great to have WILLIAMS back, his speed at RB could prove to b the difference!! ALL HANDS ON DECK!!! GO IRISH!!!

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