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Staff Predictions: Stanford

| Friday, November 24, 2017

Michelle Mehelas | The Observer

Irish sophomore running back Tony Jones Jr. carries the ball upfield during Notre Dame’s 24-17 win over Navy on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.

Ben Padanilam — Editor-in-Chief

In the second game of the season against Georgia, Brian Kelly had a chance to rewrite the script about his ability to win games against top-15 opponents. And he came up short.

But when he got another chance, the Irish won two straight in dominant fashion against USC and N.C. State.

Two weeks ago against Miami (FL), Brian Kelly had a chance to rewrite the script about his ability to win games on the road against ranked opponents. And he came up well short.

On Saturday, he has another chance.

No. 21 Stanford will be a tough test for No. 8 Notre Dame, but the Irish have a matchup they can exploit. Contrary to what you might expect, the Cardinal defense is ranked just No. 69 in the country against the run, and that’s not very nice.

Stanford will be able to score its fair share of points, too, behind Heisman Trophy contender Bryce Love and its offensive line.

But in a game that I think will have more points scored than people think, it will come down to who you trust at quarterback. And as inconsistent as Brandon Wimbush has been, I don’t trust what’s largely been a revolving door under center on the other side.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 38, Stanford 31

Marek Mazurek — Assistant Managing Editor

Much has been made of Notre Dame’s inability to win road games versus top-20 opponents. The Irish haven’t won such a game since 2012 against Oklahoma in Norman. Technically, Stanford is ranked 21st by the College Football Playoff committee, but the spirit of the stat remains the same — Brian Kelly can’t find a way to win against good teams on the road.

And Notre Dame’s 41-8 loss to Miami two weeks ago doesn’t help matters.

No matter what they say to the media or to themselves in the locker room, that loss hasn’t left the Irish psyche, and that is problematic.

If Brandon Wimbush gets off to a slow start, you can bet he’ll be thinking of his two interceptions versus the Hurricanes. If the Irish fall behind early, they’ll be thinking of how they couldn’t come back in Miami Gardens, Florida.

The Irish have the talent to win, but I don’t believe they’re in the right place mentally to squeak out a win in Palo Alto, California.

FINAL SCORE: Stanford 24, Notre Dame 20

Elizabeth Greason — Sports Editor

There are a whole lot of questions surrounding whether or not the Irish can win a big road matchup. They’ve proven they know how to lose one — badly — with the Miami (FL) blowout loss. But they are due.

Junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush knows, or at least thinks he knows, what he did wrong in preparing for the Hurricanes, and it seems that the Notre Dame offense is finally clicking, as it seemed much improved in the second half against Navy. And defensively, the Irish were firing on all cylinders against the Midshipmen.

And while junior running back Bryce Love is almost definitely the most talented running back Notre Dame will face this season, he may not be at 100 percent, which will certainly affect the Cardinal offense.

The Irish are ready for this road win, and they should be able to pick up where they left off last week and finally pull this one out.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 31, Stanford 24

Tobias Hoonhout — Associate Sports Editor

The Irish head into Palo Alto with confidence after a tough win over a determined Navy team but also with a cloud over their heads — Notre Dame hasn’t beaten Stanford on the road since 2007 and has struggled against ranked road teams under Brian Kelly, most recently in South Beach against now-No. 2 Miami.

But Notre Dame has been on a mission to beat every team it lost to last season, and Stanford is all that stands in Brian Kelly’s way of accomplishing that mission. Yes, playing on the road against a good Cardinal team is never easy, but considering how close the Irish came last time in 2015, there’s no reason why the outcome can’t be different this time.

Add into the fact that star Stanford running back Bryce Love is battling an injury and the struggles the Cardinal have had against stopping the run, and things are primed for the Irish to run all over David Shaw’s team.

This win is long overdue.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 34, Stanford 21

Daniel O’Boyle — Sports writer

Notre Dame’s record against good teams in true road games since 2012 has not been good at all.

That’s why I originally planned on picking against the Irish this week.

But junior running back Bryce Love is unlikely to be at 100 percent for Stanford, and the likely Heisman finalist is enough of a game-changer that even the slightest limitation to his ability has a huge impact on the game.

Stanford’s defense ensures this will still be a tough game and the best road win for the Irish in over five years if they can emerge victorious. And this Irish team is great, too, and has made a habit of correcting the errors of Notre Dame’s recent past.

FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 24, Stanford 21

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