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Stanford vs. Notre Dame: Four (Not So) Preposterous Predictions

Will Andrew Luck enjoy a (not so) preposterously good performance against the Irish?
Will Andrew Luck enjoy a (not so) preposterously good performance against the Irish?

Here are four things that probably won't (but maybe will) happen Saturday at Stanford Stadium. Vote for the least preposterous prediction and feel free to leave your own in the comments section

1. Andrew Luck will throw for at least four touchdowns and complete at least 75% of his passes.

Why it's preposterous: Luck has thrown at least four touchdowns in a game 6 times and completed at least 75% of his passes 8 times in his outstanding Stanford career. He's done both in the same game exactly once and that was in the Cardinal's 40-12 rout of Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl. Luck will be without Chris Owusu again on Saturday and Zach Ertz will be a game-time decision. Luck hasn't looked himself the past few weeks and Notre Dame ranks 48th in pass efficiency defense. The Irish have allowed more than one touchdown pass in only three games and Luck has thrown for at least four touchdowns only once this year.

Why it could happen: Luck won't be lacking for motivation. Unless Oregon State finds a way to beat Oregon in the Civil War, this will be his final home game, and his next touchdown pass will tie him with John Elway for the school's career record. Luck has said he isn't concerned with the Heisman chatter, but this is most likely his last opportunity to make a statement. I doubt Stanford changes its game plan, but David Shaw, who defended his quarterback against those who question whether he's deserving of the Heisman, could elect to call more passing plays in the red zone to give Luck a chance to pad his already impressive stats. For the record, Robert Griffin III has had two games of 5 touchdowns and a completion percentage of greater than 75 percent this season.

2. Michael Floyd will finish with fewer than 40 yards receiving.

Why it's preposterous: The Irish's No. 1 receiver hasn't scored as often as he did last season, but he has four games with at least 10 receptions this year and will surpass last year's yardage total with 11 more yards against Stanford. Floyd ranks 22nd in the nation with 92 receiving yards per game, while the Cardinal ranks 78th in passing defense.

Why it could happen: Floyd's two biggest games were the Irish's first two games of the year. He's eclipsed 100 yards receiving only twice in the last nine games and has been held to fewer than 50 yards twice during that span. Washington State's Marquess Wilson, who ranks sixth in the country in receiving yards per game, had his worst game of the season (50 yards receiving) against Stanford. With Notre Dame running back Jonas Gray out for the season with an injury, Stanford can focus even more on shutting down Floyd.

3. Stanford will sack Tommy Rees at least 6 times.

Why it's preposterous: Notre Dame's pass protection has been excellent this season. The Irish have allowed eight sacks all year, which is one fewer than Stanford's highly regarded offensive line has allowed, and five of those came in the first four games of the year. Stanford ranks eighth in the country with three sacks per game, but hasn't had more than three sacks in a single game since October 15.

Why it could happen: There's precedent. Stanford has two games with at least six sacks this season. If the Cardinal jumps out to an early lead or Cierre Wood doesn't have any success on the ground with Gray out, the Irish may be forced to abandon the running game earlier than they would like. If that happens, Chase Thomas and Co. can pin their ears back and take aim at Rees.

4. Stanford will win by at least 25 points.

Why it's preposterous: The Irish's three losses have come by a total of 21 points, which includes a 31-17 loss to USC. Notre Dame, which ranks 33rd in total offense and 28th in total defense, has struggled against some mediocre teams (South Florida, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, and Boston College) but doesn't seem susceptible to getting blown out. Stanford isn't the same team that it was in the first half of the season.

Why it could happen: After losing seven straight against Notre Dame, Stanford has won the last two in the series, including last year's 37-14 win in South Bend. The Cardinal will know whether its Rose Bowl and National Championship Game hopes are still alive by kickoff time, but this game is probably its final chance to impress Heisman and poll voters alike. There's no time like the present to start another streak of wins by at least 25 points.