The regular season is ending, but these two teams still have plenty to look forward to. Notre Dame is headed for a nice bowl with a win here, while nothing changes for Stanford in this Game. The Cardinal have to wait for the result of the Apple Cup to determine their fate in the Pac-12 title Game and the team they need to win (Washington) is favored by almost 10 points. For this one, the Fighting Irish were just -2 point road favorites as of Monday at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
It was an ugly Game when these teams met a year ago with Stanford winning 17-10 on the road. But that was a different time when Stanford had a great defense and Notre Dame was headed for a losing record. Things have changed a bit this season, although the Irish looked to have reverted to 2016 levels with the Miami loss and a late win against Navy last week.
Still, according to the numbers, Notre Dame should run all over Stanford. The Cardinal are allowing just 20.7 points per Game, but are giving up 171 rushing yards per contest, which is not the norm for this team. While they’ve won seven of their last eight Games, none of them are that impressive considering how the Pac-12 has performed this season. A 17-14 comeback win against Cal last week shows that.
This is a matchup between beat-up running backs, but Josh Adams appears more healthy for Notre Dame with a stout 1,337 yards and nine touchdowns this season. He’s slowed up in recent Games, but with how Stanford’s rush defense has looked, this could be one of those performances that the Irish go for 300 rushing yards. The other bonus for Notre Dame is that Brandon Wimbush is a better quarterback, although he’s been a bit sketchy since the Miami loss. If he’s not asked to throw the ball, that’s a plus for Notre Dame.
But while Wimbush has struggled through the air, he’s still been better than what Stanford has had under center. K.J. Costello has started the last few Games and similar to Wimbush, isn’t asked to pass. The issue is that stud running back Bryce Love is dealing with an ankle injury and hasn’t been healthy for a month. He gutted out last week’s win, although only had 15 touches. If Love can top that total, it’d be a good sign for the Cardinal as he’s averaging 8.8 yards per carry, while backup Cameron SCarlett is at just 4.8. Notre Dame’s defense isn’t overwhelming, but it’s done enough against some good offenses this season and the 49-14 beat down of USC showed that.
As long as the Irish still have the motivation to win, this should be their Game. Stanford has a good record, but the Pac-12 is a mess as a whole. Look for the Irish to dominate on the ground, and if not, Love will try and re-enter the Heisman conversation leading Stanford to a win.
The Fighting Irish are 1-4 ATS in their last five road Games vs. a team with a winning home record. The Cardinal are 3-1-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record, but 1-7-1 ATS in their last nine following a straight-up win. The underdog has covered in the last five meetings between these teams with the road team 4-1 ATS in the last five.
Our Pick – Stanford +2.5