Fresh-off an impressive senior day performance and an 18th consecutive home win, Brian Kelly and Notre Dame travel to Stanford. The Irish have been winless at Stanford Stadium since 2007 and are primed to end their drought. Another clash for the Legends Trophy will take place this weekend as the Irish look to finish the season strong and add a 3rd consecutive 10-win season.
Essential Game Info:
- Game Time: November 30th at 4:00 p.m. ET on Fox
- Location: Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto, California
- Matchup History: The Irish are 19-13 all-time against the Stanford Cardinal (Last Meeting 2018: Notre Dame won 38-17)
- Trophy: Legends Trophy
- Current Odds: Notre Dame -16.5
The current forecast for GameDay shows a 90% chance of rain with a high of 52 degrees and a low of 50.
- Conference: Pac 12 (North Division)
- Head Coach: David Shaw
- 2019 Record: 4-7
- 2018 Record: 9-4
Home Field Advantage? Even when the Cardinal are ranked, Stanford Stadium is often half-empty. Notre Dame has a large following across the country, and the West Coast is no different. With the lack of success this season and Thanksgiving break, there will likely be more supporters of the Fighting Irish this weekend.
Nevertheless, Notre Dame has lost 5-straight on the road in this rivalry even with the lack of crowd noise. Stanford always seems to save their best for the Irish.
Injuries have hampered the Cardinal. Stanford has been plagued by injuries this entire season, and the battle against rival Notre Dame will undoubtedly be their bowl game in 2019. Starting quarterback, K.J. Costello, is ruled out for this weekend’s matchup. Since his absence, backup quarterback Davis Mills has played admirably.
This season, Mills is 130 for 195 (66.7%) with 9 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. On the ground, he has 25 attempts for 9 yards and 0 rushing touchdowns. Still, Stanford quarterbacks always seem to play at their highest level against the Irish.
Key Stanford Players. Running Back Cameron Scarlett leads the Cardinal rushing attack with 188 rushes for 797 yards and 6 touchdowns. The Cardinal receiving targets are headlined by Michael Wilson, Tight End Colby Parkinson, and Connor Wedington. Each receiver in this trio has over 40 receptions on the year.
Notre Dame Storylines:
Irish look to end the drought in Palo Alto. Since 2017, Brian Kelly and the Irish have been winning at home, collecting rivalry trophies, and avenging past losses. Stanford has been successful this past decade, but Notre Dame should never lose to anybody 5-straight meetings on the road.
Setting aside the Michigan debacle, if the Irish can erase the demons in Palo Alto and finish the regular season with ten wins, that is undoubtedly an achievement.
Quarterback Ian Book leads Rushing Attack. Book’s running threat has been the difference in several games this season and is a crucial asset. However, the Notre Dame Quarterback should not be the leading rusher every week. Tony Jones Jr. had 15 carries for 61 yards (4.1 yards per carry), but that was not an overachieving performance.
Jafar Armstrong did not have a rushing attempt last week, and it is still unclear why he has been nonexistent this season after an impressive 2018 year. Yes, the Irish Offensive Line is ailing, but the running backs were not that dominating even when the unit was healthy. Chip Long’s offense is in desperate need of a running game that is not headlined by Ian Book.
How will the Irish handle the rain? Notre Dame’s Offense has been centered on the passing game this past month. If the Irish want to finish the season strong, they will have to sustain a running attack this Saturday. The last time that Notre Dame played in the rain at Ann Arbor, the offense was nonexistent without a passing threat.
Chip Long’s Offense has dominated in November but will face a significant challenge in conditions that can lead to unforced mistakes.
Head to Head Matchups:
Notre Dame Offense vs. Stanford Defense: The Cardinal Defense is allowing 28 points per game this season. At this point in the season, teams are a good reflection of their record and statistics.
Last weekend, Notre Dame was slowed down in the first half against Boston College, but eventually got back to their November domination. Ian Book has been on another level these past four games. The Irish have the advantage in this matchup.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Stanford Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: The Irish Defense has only allowed one team to score over 30 points this entire season, the Michigan Wolverines. Besides that game, Clark Lea’s Defense has dominated opponents even with a multitude of injuries.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Special Teams: Jonathan Doerer had another perfect weekend by going 4 for 4 against the Boston College Eagles. On the season, he is 12 for 14. Doerer has even hit 5 of 6 kicks over 40+ yards.
Conversely, the Stanford kicking game is led by Jet Toner. This fall, the Cardinal kicker has converted 12 of 16 field goal attempts with his longest at 51 yards.
There is no clear advantage in this category.
The Irish are one win away from maintaining all the rivalry trophies for another season and completing a third straight 10-win year. Who is standing in their way? David Shaw and the Stanford Cardinal. Notre Dame always gets Stanford’s best shot each season, but then again, that is normal for the Irish.
Since 2007, Notre Dame has struggled on the road in this series. Even though Cardinal Stadium may be the least hostile environment on the schedule, that has not affected Stanford’s advantage at home.
It’s the end of the regular season, and the Irish are missing numerous players. But thankfully, Ian Book has finally become the quarterback fans expected to see. The Notre Dame Defense has been locking down opponents most of the season, no matter who is on the field. I have the Irish finally getting over the hump and moving past that collapse in Ann Arbor with a strong finish in November.
Prediction: Notre Dame 31 Stanford 21