Notre Dame Football Primer: Surging Irish Host Rival Stanford

The Fighting Irish are back in South Bend after two outstanding victories on the road.

After Marcus Freeman’s first ranked win, Notre Dame Football heads back home to take on the Stanford Cardinal. After a once nail-biting rivalry over the past decade, the Fighting Irish have dominated the past three meetings. Notre Dame looks to continue their impressive turnaround on Saturday Night as they host their longtime rival the Stanford Cardinal in a primetime battle.

Essential Game Info:

  • Game Time: Saturday, October 15th at 7:30 PM ET on NBC
  • Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
  • Matchup History: Notre Dame is 22-13 all-time against the Stanford Cardinal (Last Meeting 2021: Irish won 45 to 14)
  • Current Odds: Notre Dame –15.5
  • Rivalry Trophy: Legends Trophy

Stanford Details:

  • Conference: Pac-12
  • Head Coach: David Shaw
  • 2022 Record: 1-4 (0-4)
  • 2021 Record: 3-9 (2-7)

Weather Forecast

The current GameDay forecast shows a 20% chance of rain with a high of 62 degrees and low of 45.

Stanford Storylines:

Stanford has lost three straight meetings in this matchup. For over a decade this was one of the top rivalries in college football and a series that peaked during the Brian Kelly era. From 2009 to 2017, Stanford won 7 of 9 meetings against the Fighting Irish.

Since then, Notre Dame has been victorious in the last three matchups with an average margin of victory at 24-points (teams did not play in 2020). Although Stanford Football has been down as of late, David Shaw would certainly like to rewind the clock and have another one possession game late in the 4th quarter.

Quarterback Tanner McKee leads the Cardinal Offense. For the year, McKee is 98 for 154 (64%) with 10 passing touchdowns, 5 interceptions, and 16 sacks taken. His two favorite targets are wide receivers Michael Wilson and Elijah Higgins. Wilson has 17 receptions for 352 yards and 4 touchdowns, while Higgins has 19 catches for 215 yards and one touchdown.

Casey Filkins headlines Stanford’s rushing attack. Through five games, Filkins has 82 rushing attempts for 339 yards (4.1 yards per carry) with 3 rushing scores.

Notre Dame Storylines:

The Irish ride a three-game winning streak. Marcus Freeman has had an extraordinary month with victories against California, North Carolina, and BYU. The BYU Cougars were ranked, while the Tar Heels have improved to 5-1 after losing to the Irish. Now, there is a lot of work left to be done on both sides of the football, but Notre Dame will be major favorites against Stanford and UNLV. While a potential top-25 showdown at Syracuse looms in late October, followed by a visit with top-5 Clemson.

Drew Pyne continues to progress at quarterback. Last week, Pyne went 22 for 28 for 262 passing yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. On the ground he had one key rush for 5 yards on third down, while propelling an offense to 496 total yards. Audric Estime and Logan Diggs both added over 90 rushing yards a piece.

Redzone offense must be improved against Stanford. The main area for development moving forward will be red zone efficiency. Drew Pyne had an interception on the 26-yard line, although it was not precisely in the red zone and the ball was tipped, the play kept the Cougars in the game.

Notre Dame also had a turnover on downs on the BYU 4-yard line as well as the offense had to settle for a field goal on the BYU 2-yard line. All areas that must be fixed if the Fighting Irish want to finish 10-2.

Head-to-Head Matchups:

Notre Dame Offense vs. Stanford Defense: The Notre Dame Offense is averaging 395 yards per game, while the Stanford Defense is allowing 431 yards per matchup. After an exceptional performance last week, the Irish have the advantage in this category.

The offensive line is producing a solid rushing attack, while Drew Pyne’s connection with Michael Mayer is one of the best in the country.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Stanford Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: The Cardinal Offense is averaging 400 yards per contest, while the Irish Defense is allowing 340 yards per game. Stanford has been able to score at least 22 points every game this fall. However, they will be facing the best defense they have seen all season.

Al Golden’s unit has been good to this point, but the group has failed to put together a full 4 quarters. Another safety blitz by Golden led to a 53-yard touchdown pass and sparked a BYU comeback. The Irish Defense also surrendered a 20-yard run to the Cougars on a 3rd and 18.

There have been numerous blunders the past several games, but overall Notre Dame still has the advantage in this matchup.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Special Teams: Notre Dame’s kicker Blake Grupe is 5 for 6 on the year with his longest make coming at 47-yards. While Stanford’s kicker Joshua karty is 4 for 4 with his longest make at 53-yards.

Advantage: Tie

My Prediction:

Notre Dame Stanford used to be a game that both teams had circled on their calendars and the games typically game down to the wire. Even though Stanford has a losing record, Irish fans know that anything can happen in South Bend and should show up for this primetime meeting.

I want to see more receivers step up besides Michael Mayer this weekend. Facing BYU, Jayden Thomas and Lorenzo Styles both had three catches which was solid, but Michael Mayer has been the only consistent receiver this fall. Drew Pyne is playing with confidence, and I believe Tommy Rees will open the passing attack even more this weekend if the Irish can sustain an early lead.

I have the Irish winning by 22-points and dominating Stanford like they did last year.

Prediction: Notre Dame 42 Stanford 20

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  1. This team has the same task, with the same final team (@USC) as the 1978 team. They wanted to win out and finish 9-2 after starting 0-2.
    The 2022 team had the same start, and has probably regoaled to 10-2. But they have to beat USC in LA to do it, as well as everyone else.
    It seems like a worthy task to me.

    BGC 77 82

    1. This team plays absolutely nothing like the school’s 1978 team.
      But don’t take that as only a criticism of ND.
      No one’s team does.

      1. David, they were a great Notre Dame team, and I heard that Hesburgh did something he never did before, telling the team (after they came all the way back against USC, in typical Montana style, only to be rookped by an impossible call. Hesburgh said “we’ll get one like this one, you’ll see” or words to that effect.
        The very next time that team played (against Houston in the Cotton Bowl) the Team finished an even greater comeback. I don’t know if the story is true, you’d have to ask those guys who were there.

        BGC 77 82

        PS: Remember David, that team did not start to play well on offense until the third game. Give this team some time. They are not returning Joe Montana for his senior year like the 78 team did

    2. Sure 10-2 is certainly possible but 8-4 or even 7-5 is more likely. And I certainly don’t want to see Pyne behind center for the next 3 years.

      1. I’m not giving up on Pyne just yet….he showed progress and looked a lot more comfortable vs. his first start. That might be to the O-line’s credit more than his…we’ll see.

        But they should definitely ramp up Plan B, and really start following the highest likelihood grad transfer candidates for next year.

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