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Rule of Tree staff predictions: Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Fighting Irish

We asked the writers their thoughts on the upcoming Stanford football game against Notre Dame

Washington State v Stanford Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Nerdnation23: Even if Stanford has McCaffrey on Saturday, this game could be ugly with two teams normally fighting for a big bowl game just fighting for A bowl game. Stanford has only won in South Bend three times in the series history and the way Stanford is playing right now, number four isn't going to happen this season. I'm usually the positive one but I don't see what's going to change in a week and I see Notre Dame winning 35 to 17.

Tony Fernandes: What is the old adage, two ugly people make a beautiful baby? That will not be the case here for sure as this game has ugly baby written all over it. This will all boil down to the fact that if Stanford cannot block the front 4 of Notre Dame, just phone in the game. Intellectual brutality is a must to get back on track here, and if the Cardinal want to salvage the season and make it to a respectable bowl game, they will need to get more production from the offensive line and from the QB. I do think the words of Solomon Thomas after the game last week rang true, and I feel that the Cardinal have caught the Irish on a slide down; I think Stanford leaves South Bend with a 28-17 victory.

Charlie Foy: Stanford needs their starting cornerbacks to return if they want to have a chance. Meeks should play; however, Holder is doubtful. Even with the return of Meeks, the secondary has another difficult challenge against Kizer and the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame has shown their ability to put up a lot of points, and the Stanford offense won't be able to keep up. I think Stanford's defense keeps this somewhat close, but Stanford loses 28-17.

CMolesky This game reeks of desperation for both these teams, as both programs are usually top 10 teams not fighting for relevance. In the end Notre Dame knowing who they are on offense, compared to Stanford's complete confusion offensively will be the difference. ND wins 30-17.

Nick Dempsey: Stanford has looked absolutely abysmal in the last couple of games but Notre Dame has lost to 2-3 Texas, 2-3 Michigan State, 3-3 Duke, and 4-1 NC State in a hurricane. Notre Dame has only beaten Nevada and 2-3 Syracuse. In other words Stanford has played poorly against solid teams, but Notre Dame has lost to teams that are just straight up bad. Still, Notre Dame’s offense is incredible and the only thing that has stopped that offense was literally a hurricane.

Notre Dame’s defense on the other hand is one of the absolute worst in college football. In other words if the Stanford offense cannot move the ball on the ground and protect the quarterback against the Irish defense then it might be time for the Cardinal to make dramatic changes. If Syracuse, Duke, and Michigan State can all put up 30+ points and easily move the ball on the Notre Dame defense but the Stanford offense struggles then that will say an awful lot about how bad things have gotten on the Farm. However, both teams are hurting on defense which means we will probably see a shootout that Notre Dame is more equipped (or more practiced) to win. Notre Dame wins 45-41.

Matt Levin: Notre Dame and Stanford were two teams that were ranked in the top 10 to begin the season. Now, their struggles have left them both unranked. Stanfords offense has been terrible even with Christain McCaffrey. The defense has been crippled by injuries and cannot seem to stop opposing offenses. That said, Notre Dame has its fair share of problems on both offense and defense. Ultimately, ND's problems will be much greater than Stanford's. Stanford bounces back from two losses in a row to beat Notre Dame 21-17.

John Loop: I'd like to believe a game against a battered and bruised Notre Dame team is a perfect way for the Cardinal to regain their mojo, but this Stanford team was supposed to be competitive against teams from the state of Washington. Even with the slim possibility of Christian McCaffrey playing on Saturday, I still can't seem to find the confidence to say they will pull it out. Notre Dame wins, 35-24.

Matt Vassar: Notre Dame has so much firepower; it's put up an average of 39.8 points in the first five games. In Notre Dame's sixth game, the only thing that slowed them down was Hurricane Matthew. No, literally! They were playing in the middle of a freaking hurricane! Hurricane Matthew may not visit South Bend, but Hurricane Solomon is on his way. Solomon Thomas leads a defensive line that has sacks in 16 of the last 18 games and ranks 28th in the FBS for sacks per game; meanwhile, Notre Dame's offensive line ranks 84th in the country for sacks allowed per game. Hurricane Quenton will likely return too, and we saw a breakout performance from Hurricane Frank last week (tied the team high with 6 tackles + got that pick six). With pressure on the quarterback and good coverage in the secondary, Stanford will limit Notre Dame to 27 points in regulation time. Meanwhile, Francis Owusu and Greg Taboada are likely returning from injuries, which doesn't bode well for a Notre Dame secondary that's struggled all season long. Stanford ekes it out in overtime, 34-30.

Courtland Nickelberry: Notre Dame has a great quarterback in Deshone Kizer his ability to make plays with his legs and extend plays will be the difference in the ball game. The Cardinal secondary has struggled in the last 2 games against the pass. Stanford will stick around and expect to see some improvements in offensive play calling but Notre Dame will run away late in the 4th quarter 31-21 Fighting Irish.

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