Notre Dame Heads West To Battle Stanford Cardinal
By: Dave Consolazio
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
The Stanford Cardinal and Notre Dame Fighting Irish both look to end their regular seasons on a high note with a big win on national television in Palo Alto this Saturday night.
ABC has the telecast starting at 8:00 p.m. (ET). Stanford is currently a 6½-point favorite on the Don Best odds screen.
While Stanford is no longer in the BCS Championship and is clinging to very slim hopes of a spot in the Pac-12 title game, it can still essentially lock up an at-large bid to a BCS bowl with a win over the Irish. For Notre Dame, this is a perfect opportunity for Brian Kelly to pick up a signature win for the program, and to prove that the football team is back on the map. The winner of this game will not only increase its bowl status, but will also help its recruiting this offseason.
The Cardinal ranked No. 6 in this week’s Don Best Linemakers Poll, while Notre Dame came in at No. 14.
Stanford (10-1) has lost each of its last two games ATS after starting the season 9-0 both SU and ATS. The Cardinal hung on for the outright win over California in the “Big Game” last week, 31-28, but didn’t come close to covering the spread as 17½-point favorites. Still, the win did bring Stanford to 18-1 SU in its last 19 games.
Andrew Luck went 20-for-30 with 257 yards and two touchdowns in the win over Cal. While he’s no longer the top favorite, Luck is still a Heisman Trophy contender with no clear-cut winner out in the field this season. A big day against Notre Dame’s tough passing defense could make one more final case for himself.
Notre Dame (8-3) has had its shares of ups and downs this season, and just narrowly escaped with a 16-14 victory over Boston College as a 24-point favorite last week. The Irish have an impressive win over Michigan State, but failed to rise to the task against Michigan and USC. The difference between an 8-4 season and a 9-3 season with a road win over Stanford would be monumental, so there shouldn’t be any lack of motivation here.
The Irish took a major blow in the win over Boston College, losing running back Jonas Gray to a knee injury. Notre Dame will still have its leading rusher in Cierre Wood, but going up against Stanford’s stingy rushing defense that allows just 93 rushing yards per game, Gray’s presence will be missed.
Stanford is also dealing with injuries that could leave its receiving corps short. Wideout Chris Owuso (concussion) is doubtful, as is tight end Zach Ertz (knee). Tight end Levine Toilolo (shoulder) is questionable. That trio ranks 3-4-5 in receiving yards for the Cardinal.
Over the last nine years, Notre Dame is 7-2 SU and 6-3 ATS over Stanford. The Irish are also 6-1 ATS in their last seven games against Stanford in Palo Alto. That said, Stanford has won each of the last two meetings between these teams, including a 37-14 blowout in Notre Dame last season.
The total for Saturday’s contest is currently set at 58. Stanford has gone ‘over’ the total in four of its last five games overall and five of its last six games at home.
There's a 20 percent chance of rain Saturday at Stanford, but the likelihood decreases after sunset. The weatherman is calling for a temperature in the upper-50s for the start of the contest.
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Updated November 21, 2011
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