Stanford Cardinal (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS), 3:30 p.m. EST, College Football Week 4, Saturday, September 25 2010, Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, Indiana
by Scotty L of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Stan 3.5/ND +3.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
The Stanford Cardinal make the long trip to face Notre Dame on Saturday in a tough matchup. These teams play each other annually. Last year, Stanford finally reversed the negative momentumbeating Notre Dame 45-38 after losing to the Fighting Irish in 7 straight games. Those were some pretty iffy Stanford teams and this year they appear to be very good.
While no one should be blown away by them putting up 68 against the woeful Wake Forest defense last week, but its difficult to ignore that the Cardinal are playing with an edge this season. Coach Jim Harbaugh appears to have his squad dialed in, with 3 massive blowouts this season. Most impressive was their week two 35-0 hammering of UCLAa team that came back to beat top-25 Houston.
While early, Stanford is already number one in pass defense, giving up an anemic 90 yards per game. Some might find it disturbing that Wake Forest put up 24 against them, but Wake has a pretty good offense and the game was never in doubt, allowing Stanford to relax a little. You have to like Stanfords depth at running back this year, with a gaggle of talented ball carriers getting the job done with aplomb. Quarterback Andrew Luck is the portrait of efficiency, throwing for 10 touchdowns and zero picks.
How good is Stanford? Time will tell, but right now theyre playing well. They surely want to beat the Fighting Irish, in order to build a head of steam as they enter a tough part of their conference schedule the following week. While they pummeled UCLA on the road, this is their most robust test thus far this season and will serve as a good indicator of where the Cardinal are as a team.
The Fighting Irish are in a rebuilding phase under first-year coach Brian Kelly. That doesnt mean they are pushovers, as the last few weeks will attest. Even though they lost both games, it took a last-minute touchdown by Michigan to beat them, followed by Michigan State relying on a fake overtime field goal attempt to score a touchdown to put away the Irish in heartbreaking fashion. Their schedule has been tough this season, with three straight Big Ten opponents and they get no breaks here with Stanford.
It will be interesting to see how Notre Dame responds to losing two straight games in agonizing fashion. Losses like those can deflate a team, but perhaps the ability to endure such disappointments will make them a stronger team in the long run. Quarterback Dayne Crist, in his first season as a starter, will likely benefit from the seasoning he got from the last two games, as will the rest of a young squad. The offensive line showed it is coming around and the defense, though throttled in the second half against the Spartans, showed some promise.
One can expect Stanford to be humbled a bit this week. It is difficult to imagine the high-flying act continuing in a tough road game against a Notre Dame team that has showed they can hang with good teams. Assuming the recent anguish hasnt chipped away at the Fighting Irish morale, this should be a tough game. Stanford is good, but they might not yet quite be the caliber of team that is able to travel across the country and wax quality opposition.
Scotty Ls Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Ah, that dreaded 3.5 points. It came back to bite those betting against Notre Dame last week, as they covered by a half-point against Michigan State. At the same time, Michigan State was playing from behind the whole game and Stanford figures to get off to a quicker start. I expect Dayne Crist and the offense to keep improving, especially at home, where they figure to put up some points.
Stanfords sheer physicality will begin to pay dividends as the game moves into the second half. The Notre Dame defense will stay true to form and fade late. If they couldnt stand up to the Michigan and Michigan State offenses when it counted, theyre going to have a really tough time with Stanford on Saturday. I see Notre Dame putting up a game effort, but in the end, Stanford has too many weapons. Take the Stanford Cardinal to cover the spread.