Notre Dame Football Primer: Irish travel to Stanford in Regular Season Finale
The Fighting Irish are seeking their 9th victory of the season as they travel to Stanford this Saturday.
By: Michael Owens
It is hard to believe that the final week of the regular season has arrived when it feels like the Irish were just playing in Dublin. Notre Dame Football will not be heading to the playoffs as many would have wished; however, the season did not spiral out of control either. Marcus Freeman has an opportunity for payback against Stanford, to reach 9 wins in consecutive seasons, and to maintain recruiting momentum heading into a quality bowl game. It is rivalry week in college football, and the Fighting Irish are primed for revenge against Stanford this Saturday Night.
Essential Game Info:
- Game Time: Saturday, November 25th at 7:00 PM ET on Pac-12 Network
- Location: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, California
- Matchup History: Notre Dame is 22-14 all-time against the Stanford Cardinal (Last Meeting 2022: Stanford won 16 to 14)
- Rivalry Trophy: The Legends Trophy
- Current Odds: Notre Dame -26.0
- Conference: PAC-12
- Head Coach: Troy Taylor
- 2023 Record: 3-8 (2-7)
- 2022 Record: 3-9 (1-8)
The current GameDay forecast shows a 0% chance of rain, with a high of 66 degrees and a low of 43.
Head Coach Troy Taylor is in year one of a Stanford rebuild. The glory days under Jim Harbaugh and David Shaw are in the past for Stanford Football. But, as Irish fans know from a year ago, that does not mean the Cardinal cannot pull off an upset.
In their last four games, Stanford lost to Washington (9 points), won at Washington State (3), lost to Oregon State (45), and lost to California in their most recent contest (12).
Quarterback Ashton Daniels leads the Cardinal Offense. This fall, Daniels is 176 for 300 (59%) with 11 passing touchdowns, 7 interceptions, and 23 sacks taken. On the ground, he has 99 attempts for 295 yards (3 yards per carry) with 3 rushing scores.
The top running back for Stanford is E.J. Smith. This season, Smith has 52 carries for 217 yards (4 yards per carry) and 4 rushing scores. Stanford’s top receiving targets are wide receivers Elic Ayomanor and Tiger Bachmeier. On the year, Ayomanor has 55 receptions for 955 yards with 6 touchdowns, while Bachmeier has 36 catches for 409 yards and 2 scores.
Notre Dame Storylines:
The young receivers finally step up for the Notre Dame Offense. The Irish passing attack resembled what fans saw during the season’s first month. Gerad Parker utilized Audric Estime and play action to set up the passing game for Sam Hartman.
The future is bright in South Bend as Rico Flores Jr., Jaden Greathouse, Tobias Merriweather, Eli Raridon (TE), Jordan Faison, and Holden Staes all recorded catches against the Demon Deacons last week.
Two more games for Sam Hartman? Quarterback Sam Hartman told the media that he still has two more games left. Since Hartman’s draft stock is still uncertain, I believe an additional game facing a quality opponent would be beneficial. This would be great news for the Fighting Irish seeking to add another bowl victory, which propelled the program into a great offseason a year ago.
There are a lot of conference affiliations and rules to bowl bids, but the powers of college football will certainly try to match up the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and LSU Tigers during this bowl season.
Marcus Freeman must lockdown Al Golden. In year two, as the defensive coordinator in South Bend, Coach Golden has turned Notre Dame into one of the best defenses in the country. The Fighting Irish were in every single game because of the efforts on the defensive side of the ball.
Al Golden has already been linked to the Syracuse head coaching position and he will likely be getting calls from other destinations in the offseason. It is understandable if Coach Golden wants to become a head coach again, but Notre Dame cannot let him slip away to become a defensive coordinator at another school under any circumstances.
Notre Dame Offense vs. Stanford Defense: The Fighting Irish Offense averages 421 per game, while the Cardinal Defense allows 456 yards per matchup. Even though Gerad Parker’s days in South Bend are likely numbered, the Irish Offense finally broke through against Wake Forest last week.
Look for Audric Estime to wreak havoc on the ground and set up play-action passing for Sam Hartman. Notre Dame has the advantage.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Stanford Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: The Stanford Offense averages 351 yards per contest, while Al Golden’s group allows 276 yards per showdown. Troy Taylor’s offense has struggled this season, and they may be facing the best defensive unit they have seen all year.
It will be difficult for Stanford to move the football Saturday, however the Irish Defense has been vulnerable away from South Bend this year.
Advantage: Notre Dame
Special Teams: Spencer Shrader is 14 for 20 this season, with his longest conversion at 54 yards. While Stanford’s Joshua Karty is 20 for 23, with his longest conversion at 53 yards.
There is no clear advantage on special teams.
This matchup feels like the Notre Dame at Stanford matchup in 2021, where the Irish won 45 to 14. Yes, this will be Stanford’s “Super Bowl,” and they have given this program challenges over the years. But, with Audric Estime not being a semi-finalist for the Doak Walker Award and the Irish wanting revenge for an unbearable loss last year, they will be motivated not to make the same mistake twice.
Notre Dame is on the verge of having nine victories for two seasons in a row (possible 10th victory in the bowl game). Unfortunately, the Irish let the win against Ohio State slip away, and the other losses to Louisville and Clemson were not due to a talent disparity. The Fighting Irish are primed to be successful for years to come, and although the season was not everything fans hoped for, Coach Freeman is still moving forward with this program, not backward.
I have the Irish winning by 25 points and the next time these two programs meet in South Bend next year, Stanford will be a member of the ACC.
Prediction: Notre Dame 38, Stanford 13