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Predictions: Notre Dame vs. Stanford

| Friday, October 14, 2016

Alex Carson — Assistant Managing Editor

Eleven months ago, Notre Dame and Stanford played the game of the 2015 season. This week, the Irish start the fight for their bowl-eligibility lives against an unranked Cardinal team. What a difference a bit of time makes.

Here’s the thing about this Notre Dame team: it’s bad. It should have beat Texas. It didn’t. It should have beat Michigan State. It didn’t. It should have beat Duke. It didn’t.

Perhaps Notre Dame “should” beat a Stanford team that’s reeling right now, in more ways than one. The Cardinal offense is miserably bad, and right now, its defense ain’t much better. But despite all that, the Cardinal are still going to be the best team the Irish have played.

I won’t take much from last Saturday’s joke of a football game, but until Notre Dame shows the Syracuse win was the start of a new trend, not the anomaly, I can’t pick the Irish.

FINAL SCORE: Stanford 37, Notre Dame 24

Zach Klonsinski — Assistant Managing Editor

Everything I’ve seen this season from Notre Dame says this should be an easy decision. But everything we’ve seen from Stanford the last couple weeks makes it more difficult.

Couple that with my gut feeling that Notre Dame matches up extremely well against a Stanford team that may be without its top offensive star and is led by a quarterback that is struggling to fill Kevin Hogan’s shoes.

Don’t read anything into Notre Dame’s offensive woes last week. In fact, look for Notre Dame to use that as motivation this week against a rival. If Brian Kelly stays out of his team’s way, this could be a game that regains some respect for this season.

That’s a big if, but my gut says the Irish win big under the lights.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 41, Stanford 24

Marek Mazurek — Sports Editor

Before last week, not many would have predicted Notre Dame to upset Stanford. Now, it would not even be an upset.

Stanford is struggling, being outscored 86-22 in their last two games, and star running back Christian McCaffrey may not play due to injury.

Notre Dame matches up well with the Cardinal, as Stanford’s strength is not throwing the football and thus, the weak point of Notre Dame’s defense — the secondary — may not be tested.

But last week’s loss showed that this team simply isn’t ready, from a mental standpoint, to win close games. All of Notre Dame’s losses this year have been by one score or less, while its two wins have been blowouts. The Irish want revenge for last year, but they will have to wait. 

FINAL SCORE: Stanford 35, Notre Dame 27

Ben Padanilam — Associate Sports Editor

At the beginning of this season, everyone expected this week’s game to carry playoff implications.

But now, the Irish come into the game with a losing record, and the Cardinal are missing several key pieces on their defense, still looking for production at quarterback and might not have their best player on the field come Saturday.

With just one offensive touchdown in each of its last three games, Stanford doesn’t have the pieces to truly take advantage of a weak Irish defense, especially if Christian McCaffrey doesn’t play.

And barring a hurricane, the Irish offense should return to form, doing just enough to give Notre Dame a victory.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 31, Stanford 27

Renee Griffin — Sports Writer

At last, one of the season’s most anticipated matchups has arrived: No. 8 Stanford, with star running back Christian McCaffrey, against No. 10 Notre Dame, with prolific passer DeShone Kizer, under the lights.

That’s what could have been written in the preseason. Instead, Saturday will be a matchup between the 2-4 Irish, whose playoff hopes were crushed weeks ago, and the 3-2 Cardinal, who began the season with three solid wins only to see their dreams crumble after being routed 42-16 by Washington State last weekend.

With McCaffrey questionable, this is Notre Dame’s best chance at another win in Notre Dame Stadium this year. Yet Stanford still has plenty of talent, and as Brian Kelly noted, the Irish have repeatedly failed to win close games. Expect that trend to continue.

FINAL SCORE: Stanford 32, Notre Dame 28

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