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Notre Dame vs. Stanford Pick with Analysis
Line at 5 Dimes - Stanford -6.5 O/U 58
It's been a year of ups and downs for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. HC Brian Kelly's team started the year 0-2, but won four in a row after that. They lost in a game against USC where they seemingly gave up, but have since won another four in a row. Now they face a steep challenge in the form of the Stanford Cardinal. This will be a home game for Stanford, who suffered a heartbreaking loss to Oregon two weeks ago before squeaking past California a week ago.
The main man on the field for Stanford will be the man, the myth, the legend, Andrew Luck. He passed up an almost sure thing to be taken #1 overall in last year's NFL Draft to play his senior season and he's done nothing to hurt his stock. His stats are incredible with 2,937 passing yards, 31 TDs and 8 INTs. The offense will also rely on workhorse RB Stepfan Taylor who has rushed 186 times for 1036 yards and 8 TDs in 2011.
Kelly runs a fast offense at Notre Dame, just like he did at Central Michigan and Cincinnati. He's got superstar athletes at nearly every position. Sophomore QB Tommy Rees runs the show. He has plenty of latent talent and he flashes brilliance at times, but still has room to grow. His passing stats sit at 2,648 yards, 19 TDs and 11 INTs.
Just a couple of weeks ago we were talking about Stanford and a potential National Title. Their loss to Oregon ended that chance and also decreased their chance of playing in the PAC-12 Title game. That is now out of their hands, and depends on what Oregon does this week against Oregon State. If Oregon State were to pull the unlikely upset, Stanford would host the title game. If Oregon wins, as expected, Oregon will host the game and Stanford will be on the outside looking in. The results of this game against Notre Dame have no impact on the PAC 12 title.
But there's still plenty of incentive for Stanford to not only win, but win big. A BCS Bowl game is still a possibility and we can't forget the possibility of Andrew Luck winning the Heisman. He's hurt his chances the past two games and really needs a huge game to seal the deal.
These two matchup fairly even on paper. The Irish defense is actually a tad better than the Stanford defense while the Stanford offense has performed better than Notre Dame overall. Notre Dame lost Running Back RB Jonas Gray for the year last week and something else worth noting is that the Flu has been making the rounds with several players affected for Notre Dame.
It should be a good close game but the feeling here is that the intangibles put Stanford over the top. We expect a huge game from Andrew Luck Saturday night in what will be his last chance to impress those with a Heisman vote. Our model has Stanford by a score of 35-23 so at anything less than a touchdown we'd side with Stanford. Stanford -6.5
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