Notre Dame Football Primer: Irish face Stanford in Regular Season Finale

After defeating Georgia Tech 55-0, the Fighting Irish will travel out to Stanford for the final showdown of the regular season.

Brian Kelly and the Fighting Irish have been utterly dominating opponents the past three weeks. Yes, they have not been ranked opponents, but the Irish have not allowed a touchdown in the last 12 quarters. Tommy Rees and Marcus Freeman have been advancing both sides of the ball each week. Notre Dame travels out to California for the first time since 2019. David Shaw’s Stanford Cardinal better get off the tracks because the train is coming through this weekend.

Essential Game Info:

  • Game Time: Saturday, November 27th at 8:00 PM ET on Fox
  • Location: Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto, California
  • Matchup History: The Irish are 21-13 all-time against the Stanford Cardinal (Last Meeting 2019: Notre Dame won 45 to 24)
  • Trophy: Legends Trophy
  • Current Odds: Notre Dame -17.0

Weather Forecast

The current forecast for GameDay shows a 3% chance of rain with a high of 68 degrees and a low of 48.

Georgia Tech Details:

  • Conference: PAC-12
  • Head Coach: David Shaw
  • 2021 Record: 3-8 (2-7)
  • 2020 Record: 4-2 (4-2)

Stanford Storylines:

The Stanford Cardinal continue to struggle. It seems like forever ago that David Shaw and the Cardinal controlled this series. From 2009 to 2017, Stanford won 7 of 9 meetings against the Fighting Irish. Brian Kelly’s team has won the last 2 matchups and would have had a great chance for 3-straight in 2020 (no game due to Covid restrictions).

Earlier this year, David Shaw was able to pull off a massive upset against the then #3 Oregon Ducks. However, Oregon has turned out to be overrated, but the Ducks were able to knock off Ohio State in week 2. Oregon was able to upset the Buckeyes before they got their offense rolling, something I hope the Irish can do in week one next fall.

Key Cardinal Players. The Stanford Offense is led by quarterback Tanner McKee who is 186 for 290 (64%) with 2,155 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. On the ground, McKee has 56 attempts for 26 yards (0.5 yards per carry) with 4 rushing scores. The Cardinal Quarterback does not present a dual threat this week against the Irish.

Nathaniel Peat and Benjamin Yurosek are the leading rusher and pass catcher for David Shaw’s squad. This year Peat has 76 attempts for 401 yards (5.3 yards per carry) and 3 touchdowns. While tight end Benjamin Yurosek has 37 receptions for 566 yards and 2 scores.

Notre Dame Storylines:

Notre Dame’s College Football Playoff hopes are alive. Brian Kelly has the Fighting Irish playing their best football at the right time. Notre Dame will likely move into the #6 spot in the College Football Playoffs Tuesday Night. Ohio State and Michigan will play in essentially an elimination game this weekend, while Alabama still must win at Auburn and in the SEC Championship Game to maintain a spot in the playoffs.

Cincinnati is no lock for the playoffs as they will play at East Carolina and Houston in the AAC championship game. The main concern for the Irish could be teams behind them, such as 10-1 Oklahoma State and the 10-1 Oklahoma Sooners. They play each other this weekend and one of them will improve 11-1 with another impressive victory. However, the winner will still have to play in the Big-12 title game.

The Irish look to repeat Saturday’s performance against Georgia Tech. Notre Dame played a complete football game against the Yellow Jackets. The only thing that worries me about Stanford is their slow and methodical pace of play. If Brian Kelly is looking for style points, the Fighting Irish can not let the Cardinal burn a lot of the clock this weekend.

Head-to-Head Matchups:

Notre Dame Offense vs. Stanford Defense: Notre Dame is averaging 34-points per game, while Stanford is allowing 31-points per contest. Tommy Rees just continues to utilize everyone on offense. Jack Coan has been accurate most of the season (67%) and Kyren Williams is unstoppable. As young talent continues to emerge, Notre Dame’s biggest problem will be getting everyone touches.

The Fighting Irish have the advantage in this category.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Stanford Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: Stanford is averaging 21-points per game, while the Fighting Irish are surrendering 19-points per matchup. Like I wrote before, Marcus Freeman’s Defense has not allowed a touchdown in their last three games. Meanwhile, the Cardinal have struggled to score points all season.

I would not be surprised if the streak continues for a fourth game, Notre Dame has the clear advantage.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Special Teams: Stanford’s kicking game is led by Joshua Karty, who is 10 for 14 this fall with a long of 51-yards. Conversely, Jonathan Doerer is 15 for 19 with a long of 51-yards.

Kyren Williams and Chris Tyree continue to give the Irish great field position. Notre Dame has the advantage on special teams.

Advantage: Notre Dame

My Prediction:

I am typically pessimistic with the margin of victory for the Fighting Irish, but I believe this week Brian Kelly will keep his foot on the gas. In 2014, when Ohio State was on the cusp of making the playoffs, they beat Wisconsin 59 to 0 in the Big Ten Championship. Certainly, Stanford is not as good as the Badgers were back then, but a larger margin of victory couldn’t hurt Notre Dame’s chances.

The last time Notre Dame traveled to Palo Alto, they got off to a slow start. I do not predict that to happen this time around. It will be important to build an early lead and score as many points before the starters are relieved. If the Irish can play as expected, it will be interesting to see how many points Kelly will let this team score. This is the last data point for Notre Dame Football and their playoff hopes.

Prediction: Notre Dame 49 Stanford 10

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  1. No letdown after a 55-0 home finale blowout?
    Stanford playing their last game, their last home game . . . with nothing to lose.
    This is Stanford’s bowl game and they get to play it at home.
    All the makings of a closer game than ought to be.
    Forgive my negative pessimism. I’m used to being a Bears’ fan.
    What I like is NDs D’ playing with attitude.
    With recent snubs to Kyren and Mayer, I hope ND feeds them and allows them huge games.
    KIser probably out will mean more Bothelo.
    Even with some drama early, I don’t see Stanford maintaining a consistent challenge.
    Expecting some chunk plays by ND with better speed and explosive athletes.
    TDs, not FGs, will better serve ND. And pressuring a less than mobile Stanford QB will be key.
    You can bet Stanford will be sending defenders at Coan from all sides.

    1. Slight diversion: “ND is their bowl game” should just be retired.
      It’s just a backhanded compliment to ND, serving double-duty as an excuse for getting beat.

      WRT alleged snubs….
      Matt Corral, Sam Hartman, Caleb Williams, nor Malik Willis got nominated for best QB…..
      Now THAT is getting snubbed. Intentional, political, and ridicuolous.

      PItt’s Kenny Pickett played a list of JV teams, while Ole Miss and Matt Corral played a murderer’s row.

  2. Hard to see a BK team doing back to back blowouts.
    What complicates this. BK is 4-6 vs the Trees and on the road 1-4.

    ND wins 35-24 (with a bit of defensive letdown and Shaw finds a way to score some points)
    GO Irish!

  3. ND scoring 50 points…vs. anyone… a truly odd occasion.
    Because, no matter how inept the opposing defense, an ND offense has rarely been efficient or effective enough to score. A chronic allergic reaction in the red zone, and an aversion to extend leads.

    And yet, a prediction of another such blowout. Hunh.
    To cap a season that began with fans (still) ridiculing and dismissing ‘clueless’ Tommy Rees.
    And demanding Coan to be benched for anyone who could run. Or throw.

    Disregarding Kelly, the O-line was this year’s glaring weak link. Not Rees, and not Coan.
    These same fans quickly skipped right past that, treating this as the inevitabity of a “rebuilding” year.

    Not having adequate depth is a failure of planning and recruiting.
    You know what a ‘rebuilding year’ looks like at Alabama or Clemson? Losing 2 or 3 games in a season.

    10 wins is not greatness. It’s just a round number, referenced back when 12 was perfect and
    schedules were still considered comparable.
    13, 14, 15 wins…..that’s now the bar for greatness.

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