Despite losing at home to Cincinnati, the Irish are still somewhat in the mix for the national playoffs, depending upon how games go this weekend, and in conference title bouts.
Without a conference championship game to improve its résumé, Notre Dame needs to finish with a flourish, which it has done very well over the past six weeks. Its final regular-season foe doesn’t figure to put up much of a battle on this FOX national telecast.
The Irish are -19 at Stanford according to several oddsmakers.
NCAAF · Sat (11/27) @ 8:00pm ET
|Stanford Stadium, Stanford, California|
No. 5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (10-1, 8-3 ATS)
Jack Coan has provided quarterback stability over the past month and a half that has kept the Irish on the periphery of the playoffs.
Since that defeat to the Bearcats, Coan has thrown 133 passes, completing 73.7% of them. Nine were scoring tosses, and only one has been picked off. He’s thrown for more than 200 yards in three of his past four games.
That’s the steadiness coach Brian Kelly sought when he welcomed Coan, formerly of Wisconsin, from the transfer portal.
Tailback Kyren Williams ran for 199 yards and a touchdown against North Carolina. He’s tailed off since then, but he has scored five times in his past three games, accumulating 221 yards.
Williams must smile widely this week as he reviews Stanford’s rushing defense. Overall, it’s the sixth-worst in the country, allowing 6 yards per run. In its past three games, though, its yield of 7.7 yards per rush is the worst in college football.
We are big on points per play, too, because it says a lot about a team in one nifty figure.
The Irish rank 20th (0.488) on the season. Over its past three games, though, its 0.626 rate is seventh in the country, behind Toledo (0.682), Louisville (0.661), Wisconsin (0.646), Central Michigan (0.643), Western Kentucky (0.631) and Georgia (0.626).
The past three Notre Dame games were decisive triumphs, over Navy (34-6), Virginia (28-3), and Georgia Tech (55-0). Interestingly, DraftKings had the Irish listed at 5000-1 to win the national championship earlier today.
In that trio, the Irish compiled 1,367 yards of total offense, yielding only 686. Overall, the Irish are 20th in defensive points per play, at 0.263. In its past three, however, Notre Dame is No. 1, at 0.045.
This could get very ugly for the home team.
Stanford Cardinal (3-8, 3-8 ATS)
The Cardinal is riding a six-game losing streak, overall and ATS. It has tallied 14 or fewer points in five of those games.
Over its past three games, the Cardinals’ defensive points-per-play yield of 0.615 is the 13th-worst rate in the country. That’s the second-worst in the Pac-12 Conference, to USC’s 0.629.
For Stanford, it’s double jeopardy because its offensive rate of 0.178 points per play over its past three is seventh from the bottom in the country. It has been worse at home, too, rather than on the road.
In each of its previous four games, Stanford failed to register 300 total yards of offense. And in those games, Tanner McKee, a 6-foot-6 redshirt freshman quarterback, has thrown only three TD passes but had seven picked off.
The very best aspect of this Stanford team is its discipline, getting not only scant penalty yards per game but its 7 penalty yards per penalty is No. 1 in the nation.
The other positive is that its season ends with this game.
Notre Dame Vs. Stanford Pick
Notre Dame heads to Stanford with a world of incentive to crush its opponent. With no conference-championship game, as an independent, it needs to win by a lot to impress the playoff committee.
The Irish might duplicate what it did at Stanford in 2003, when quarterback Brady Quinn threw two TD passes and tailback Ryan Grant ran it in for three scores in the Irish’s 57-7 victory.
Our Pick: Notre Dame -19 (PointsBet)