Stanford Cardinal vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Preview and Pick

Stanford Cardinal (3-2) +7.5, 47.5 O/U at Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-1) -7.5, 47.5 O/U Saturday October 4, Notre Dame Stadium (80,795) Notre Dame, Indiana. 2:43 p.m. EST

by Wilson of

Stanford will try to spoil Notre Dame’s perfect mark at home when they visit Notre Dame Stadium this Saturday. Both teams have improved significantly in the last year as Stanford, under the new leadership of Jim Harbaugh, has had program changing victories over #1 ranked USC Trojans and PAC 10 co-champion California Bears last season. Notre Dame’s head coach Charlie Weiss seems to have the Irish back on track as they have played decent early in the season outside a loss to the Michigan State Spartans on the road.

Quarterback Tavita Pritchard who continues to mature, leads the Stanford Cardinal. Pritchard threw for 222 yards and three touchdowns in last weeks win over the Washington Huskies. Pritchard only missed on three passes in the first half, which put a lot of pressure on the Huskies pass defense. They simply could not stop the Cardinal attack.

Stanford starting tailback Toby Gerhart left the Huskies game in the first quarter with a mild concussion and did not return. Back-up running back Anthony Kimble replaced Gerhart and rushed for a career high 157 yards on 15 carries; he sprinted for an 83-yard touchdown run at the beginning of the second half to score his second TD of the afternoon.

Notre Dame enters this weekend with confidence and a mission to prove to the nation that they are for real. Granted Stanford might not be the idea opponent to quiet critics, but the Cardinal are definitely not a team to overlook.

Irish Sophomore QB Jimmy Clausen has developed into a leader as he continues to grow and learn the offense in depth. His three touchdown passes against Purdue gives him 9 TDs for the season and 16 in his young career.

The Notre Dame running attack was in full force last week as sophomore halfback Armando Allen rushed for 247 all-purpose yards while gaining 134 on the ground. Allen’s all-purpose total was the most by a Notre Dame player in five years. Stanford will have to find a way to stop both Notre Dame’s run and pass attack. I don’t know if that will be an easy task on the road.

Really for the first time all season Notre Dame appeared to look like a team who had a solid offense by executing the pass and the run. QB Jimmy Clausen’s success with the passing game opened the door for the Irish running game. If the Fighting Irish can emulate what they did against Purdue, especially in the third quarter when they pulled away from a 14-14 tie by putting up 21 points then they will be tough to beat at home.

Stanford’s defense has been allowing nearly 28 points per game while Notre Dame has given up less at 18 points per game. Both teams struggle against the pass as they give up over 250 yards through the air each game.

Notre Dame leads the series 16-6 with a 9-2 record at Notre Dame. This year will be the first time in the last twenty meetings that neither team is nationally ranked. So, we’ll see who wins the Legends Trophy (a special trophy made from a combination of Irish crystal and California redwood).

Wilson’s Pick: Notre Dame is coming off of a well played game against Purdue, and they seem to have established their offensive game as of late. Stanford plays tough and should be able to rack up yards, but they go down to the Irish on the scoreboard, but get the money with a cover. Take the points! Luck to ya.