In a rivalry that goes back to 1925, Notre Dame leads the cardinal 19-11 as these storied programs have always provided epic clashes throughout college football history. Through the last seven face offs, however, Stanford is up 5-2 against Notre Dame. But this week is very different from previous meetings, as both of these programs desperately looking for a bounce back win.
Stanford takes to the road after getting cleaned out by both Washington teams. They gave up consecutive 40 plus point games and now head out to play a team that puts up 33.7 points a game.
Notre Dame realized in the first couple competitions that they have next to nothing on the defensive side of the ball. But they are so talented on offense that it continuously keeps them in games. Quarterback DeShone Kizer has been playing great football all year, with the exception of the NC State game which was as close to a pool party as a game can get. 1,823 total yards and 20 total touchdowns on the year, he is constantly fighting his own defense and their ability to give up points.
This Notre Dame offense averages 282.2 passing yards a game and 149.5 rushing yards a game, also remember both of those numbers took hits in the soup bowl. They are electric outside at wide receiver with Equanimeous St. Brown, Kevin Stepherson and Torii Hunter Jr. are all great receivers who push the defense to play on their heels. When opposing defenses over commit to defending the pass, the Irish take to the ground with running back Josh Adams and DeShone Kizer.
Defensively Notre Dame has been a mess, giving up an average of 417 yards a game. Notre Dame’s defensive front is much better than their secondary and they only allow an average of 29.5 points per game. 29.5 is one more score per game than Stanford’s 24.4 average. Even with Quenton Meeks and Alijah Holder set to come back this weekend, this will probably be a shootout of a game, which is exactly what the Fighting Irish want.
For Stanford, the name of the game is contain. Contain the offense, contain DeShone Kizer, contain the tempo and contain the style. Notre Dame has flaws, but they know who they are as a team. They will try to make this an up tempo, fast pace, high scoring game to compensate for a defense that will give up points. They want to turn this game over to Kizer and let him throw the ball all over the field. Stanford does not now who they are, they want to be the ground and pound, nasty in the trenches team of the past. But they aren’t that team anymore.
Defensively this game is pretty simple for Stanford. They have to play with a lot of guys back in the secondary and force Notre Dame to win with the running game. If Meeks and Holder can get back up to game speed right away their secondary is good enough to play with these receivers. For the defensive line, the most important thing is keeping Kizer in the pocket and in front of them. If they let him slip outside he will burn this defense with his legs.
The offensive side of the ball is pretty messy for Stanford still. They have failed to get McCaffrey going for two weeks straight and are still switching between quarterbacks. They have a chance to find themselves offensively against a bad defensive unit. If the Cardinal can find a passing rhythm early then that will give their running game a lot of room to breathe. As it stands right now, the Fighting Irish will load the box and challenge Ryan Burns to beat them over the top. Stanford desperately needs players to step up on both sides, but with their stud corners possibly returning the urgency is particularly on the offense. If they can stretch the defense even a little, then McCaffrey can make things happen on the ground. Even if he does not play, Bryce Love can still get the running game going if the offense is balanced. Yet again, Stanford is as good as they allow themselves to be.