Staff Predictions: Stanford
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, September 28, 2018
Tobias Hoonhout — Managing Editor
I’m going to be honest, this game has me completely torn.
Notre Dame seemed to put a lot of demons to rest last week with a dominant display against Wake Forest. Yes, the Deacons don’t play defense. But Michigan does, and the Irish still found a way to win at home. Chip Long’s offense seems to be clicking with Ian Book, and the junior has a chance to win the job outright if he can pull off the win on Saturday. And on defense, the Irish have played up to the preseason hype.
But Stanford is very good. The Cardinal haven’t lost much from the team that ruined Notre Dame’s chances at a New Year’s Six bowl last year and are coming off an incredible win on the road against Oregon last weekend. David Shaw has had Brian Kelly’s number for a while now, and there’s a lot of reasons to think that won’t change.
So I flipped a coin. And hey, maybe it’s the luck of the Irish — a win, and the dominoes to the Playoff fall into place.
FINAL: Notre Dame 42, Stanford 24
Elizabeth Greason — Assistant Managing Editor
Every year since I have been enrolled at this University, Notre Dame has led Stanford. And every year — three years in a row — Notre Dame has lost. And of course I have the deep-seated fear that Saturday is going to be a deja vu situation. But honestly, there’s another part of me that thinks Notre Dame is due for a win against the Cardinal.
Who’s going to start for the Irish this weekend at quarterback? Who knows! My guess is as good as yours, and while I think most of the country would go with Ian Book after last weekend’s performance, Brian Kelly is unpredictable.
The Irish defense has done a good job of containing run games so far this season, and despite his superior talent, Bryce Love should be no different. The real question will be whether, if, for the first time since my time as a student here, Notre Dame can play a full four quarters. And I think riding the offensive momentum from last weekend will help them finally take back the Legends Trophy and remain undefeated.
FINAL: Notre Dame 45, Stanford 30
Joe Everett — Sports Editor
It’s the biggest home game of the Brian Kelly era, and it should be a fantastic battle between two top-10 teams in a game with serious College Football Playoff implications.
The Cardinal are coming off a dramatic, come-from-behind win over Oregon last Saturday, and David Shaw saw two different teams during the matchup. In the first half, Oregon’s offense practically did what it wanted, blowing the Cardinal off the ball and picking apart the defense with speed and quick, accurate throws. That’s something the Irish offense can learn from and aim to replicate with the variety of offensive weapons they have at their disposal — including running back Dexter Williams.
On the opposite side, the Cardinal offense is scary. Forget about trying to stop the best running back in the country — Stanford’s Bryce Love — for a second. Junior quarterback K.J. Costello — who threw for four touchdowns against Notre Dame last season — has gotten better and has the ability to make tight throws in coverage. Stanford has big, physical wide receiver and tight end corps, and Love is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball.
In my time here at Notre Dame, the Irish haven’t beaten the Cardinal. I think that trend continues.
FINAL: Stanford 31, Notre Dame 27
Charlotte Edmonds — Associate Sports Editor
For the first time since the first half of the Michigan game, Notre Dame put up the dominant performance that we know they’ve been capable of against Wake Forest. Now, prepare for the complacency to set in.
Despite all the hype surrounding this weekend, being the first top-10 matchup at Notre Dame Stadium since the infamous “Bush push” against USC in 2005, I expect the Irish to once again fall short to this other California rival. Coming off a huge comeback at Oregon, Stanford is riding a giant wave of momentum, unfazed by the mystique surrounding Notre Dame Stadium, having won seven of the last nine meetings between the two teams, including two of four on the road.
Although this past weekend has made me optimistic about the outcome of this game, and while I’m excited to see if the Wimbush-Book combo (yes, I’m still of the belief the Irish need to keep Wimbush very involved for a successful season) can work, it’ll be too little, too late for the Irish to overcome the Cardinal.
FINAL: Stanford 35, Notre Dame 27
Connor Mulvena — Associate Sports Editor
Last week was a great step forward for the Irish. Ian Book played wonderfully, the backs broke out for a fantastic game and the defense was solid, as it should be. Kelly and his staff looked organized and tactful, controlling the tempo of a quick Wake Forest offense in the sweltering heat of North Carolina.
But it was Wake Forest.
Book played fantastic, and there’s no reason he can’t do it again this week, but Wake Forest’s defense was simply awful. The Deacons fired their defensive coordinator the day after the game. Book could be the key to a playoff season, but I’m not yet convinced. For the first time this season, the Irish will face a top-10 defense, one that held USC to only a field goal. Maybe the Irish have gotten it together after last week’s victory, but I think it takes more of a hurdle than Wake Forest to do so.
But I’m 2-2 on predictions, and my score predictions have been as bad as Wake Forest’s defense. So this may be a good sign for all of us.
FINAL: Stanford 27, Notre Dame 24