Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs. Stanford Cardinal Point Spread – Pick Against the Spread

Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-3 SU, 5-6 ATS) vs. Stanford Cardinal (10-1 SU, 9-2 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, College Football Week 13, Saturday, November 26, 2011, Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto, California, TV: ABC
by Scotty L, NCAA Handicapper,

Point Spread: ND +6.5/Stan -6.5
Over/Under Total: OFF

On Saturday, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame travel to Palo Alto to take on the Stanford Cardinal. Notre Dame has cracked the top-25 after winning 8 of their last 9 games. Stanford, while having a perfect season dashed by Oregon a few weeks ago, are still 10-1 with a lot still on the line.

When you see the Fighting Irish, you see an 8-3 team–not bad. But a look behind those numbers reveals a team with a ton of upside. Things could easily be different with a couple twists. In week one, delays from a lightning storm threw Notre Dame off-key, as they fell to South Florida by a field goal. Against Michigan, the Wolverines depended on crazy late-game theatrics for an almost unfathomable comeback win. A two-touchdown loss to USC is this teams only setback since September 10.

Once Notre Dame stabilized its quarterback situation and let Tommy Rees take the reigns, theyve been a top team. Their options on offense are deep, while the defense has been clutch. RB Cierre Wood topped 1000 yards last week. The pass catching crew features depth, with WR Michael Floyd now over 1000 yards, with 87 receptions. WR Tyler Eifert (53-634-5) is a great second option, as are the 3 other pass catchers on the team who have 25 or more catches.

Defensively, the Irish are getting the job done. In the last 9 games, they have allowed 30 or more points only twice. One of those games was their loss to high-powered USC and the other was to Air Force after they already had the game in hand. More often than not this season, this D has answered the call when they need it most.

They will need to be on their game in Palo Alto, facing Andrew Luck and Company. Stanford seemed to be a little affected by their deflating loss to Oregon two weeks ago, when they faced Cal on Saturday. Leading by only 1 at halftime, Cal provided stiff resistance, especially for a 17-point underdog. Stanford created some distance in the second half, before Cal stormed back to make the score look closer than the game actually was. Still, after 9 straight wins and covers to open the season, the Cardinal have now failed to cover the spread in the past two weeks. Can Notre Dame catch a Stanford team here that is waning a bit?

Stanford QB Andrew Luck has beaten Notre Dame in the previous two season. In 2009, Stanford won 45-38. Last year was a bit more emphatic, as Stanford won 37-14. This year, however, they are facing a better Notre Dame team, a squad that is rounding into shape well and has a positive outlook. If they poured too much heart and soul into the Oregon game, with that being circled at the beginning of the year as their key game, they might have trouble regrouping for the rest of the season.

This is a big game for Notre Dame. If they are a rising team who will be in the picture next season, this is a game they need to win. It would do wonders for a program that hasnt had much to get excited about in recent campaigns. A win against a 6th-ranked (BCS) Stanford team would go along way for this teams future, in addition to helping them score a meaningful bowl berth for this seasons troubles.

Scotty Ls Pick to Cover the Point Spread: It might be overly-simplistic to say Notre Dame is on the way up, while Stanford in on the way down, but the Irish strike one as being in slightly higher spirits at this point in the season. Over the years, one might have become tired losing on Notre Dame, but thats usually when they are favorites with an overly-optimistic line. In that role, they usually fail to deliver. But as an underdog, perhaps there is some value here to be had. Take the Notre Dame Fighting Irish plus 6.5 points.

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