Staff Predictions: Stanford
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, November 29, 2019
Charlotte Edmonds — Managing Editor
California over Thanksgiving always makes me nervous. Blame it on jet lag or the post-Thanksgiving lull, but there’s no denying this game has proven disastrous for Notre Dame teams in the past (e.g. 2015). Not only have the Irish historically struggled to win in Palo Alto, but even just last year they looked sluggish in a far-too-close win over USC. Granted, this is not the David Shaw team we’re used to. The Cardinal have gotten beat up in the Pac-12 and haven’t shown any signs of being able to change that ahead of this matchup. That said, this will still be a test for Notre Dame. Ian Book will have to stay composed, the defense will have to stay consistent. But there’s little question as to who the better team is heading into the game Saturday.
FINAL: Notre Dame 31, Stanford 17
Connor Mulvena — Sports Editor
Since this is the last regular season game I’ll cover in my time at Notre Dame, I’ll cut the Debbie Downer act for a week. The Irish have looked good in the past few weeks, and the fact of the matter is that Stanford is not good. It’s just an off year for the Cardinal in a conference that still is not super impressive. Cameron Scarlett is certainly a solid running back, but I just don’t know how much credence you can lend to his stat line in the Pac-12. I think Malcolm Perry of Navy is more of a threat than Scarlett, and the Irish rattled him. Granted, no home field advantage, which has been a problem for the Irish under Brian Kelly generally, is of particular concern in the Stanford rivalry, but you have to think this is the year the Irish buck the trend. I’m saying the Irish take care of business early and often in California this weekend, claiming a statement rivalry win before bowl game selections begin.
FINAL: Notre Dame 42, Stanford 14
Hayden Adams — Associate Sports Editor
The annual year-end trip to southern California is upon us, and not to jinx it, but this time it looks like the Irish actually have the far superior hand. Stanford is in the midst of their second three-game skid of the season with an upcoming date against the (dare I say) surging Irish. Senior quarterback K.J. Costello has dealt with injuries all season for the Cardinal and is out versus Notre Dame. That leaves junior quarterback Davis Mills, who has completed two-thirds of his passes while throwing nine touchdowns to five interceptions. Along with Costello, senior free safety Malik Antoine, who is third on the team with four pass breakups, and junior cornerback Paulson Adebo, the team leader with 10 pass breakups and four interceptions, are out against the Irish. That spells disaster for a one-dimensional offense (only 3.6 yards/rush as a team) going up against Clark Lea’s exceptional defense and for a vulnerable pass defense going up against a confident Ian Book who’s got a rapport with his receivers, especially Chase Claypool. The Irish haven’t won at Stanford since 2007, but that streak will come to an end.
FINAL: Notre Dame 28, Stanford 7
Ellen Geyer — Sports Writer
The Irish have a lot to gain from a win this week in Palo Alto. Having not beaten Stanford at their place since 2007, Notre Dame will be hungry for a road victory to close out the regular season. Without a conference championship to play for and with bowl season on the horizon, a victory of style points could be enough to make the case for a New Year’s Six game. Throw in the fact that the Irish have been on the up-and-up in their past four games, and you have to think Brian Kelly’s squad has a good chance of clinching this one. Sitting at the bottom of the Pac-12 North, the Cardinal haven’t looked like much of a threat to anyone this year, save their 10-point victory over Washington in early October. From an emotional perspective, the games that conclude the regular season always make me nervous, but I think Notre Dame has what it takes to pull this one out.
FINAL: Notre Dame 35, Stanford 21
Jack Concannon — Sports Writer
Notre Dame has not won at Stanford in over a decade, but this is the Irish team that fixes that. The Cardinal are losers of three straight, and two of their last three games at home. They didn’t top 22 points in any of their recent three losses. The Irish have dominated their last three games against similar or better competition to what the Cardinal have faced. Boston College is a solid if unspectacular ACC team that Brian Kelly’s squad ripped apart. Navy’s triple option met a similar fate the week before. The Irish dismantled a Duke team that is better than Stanford through the air before that. The team seems to have found its rhythm, and while it is too late to ride this wave of play to the College Football Playoff, it is not too late to end a streak of miserable performances in Stanford Stadium and secure double-digit wins in three straight seasons for the first time since 1991-1993. Rainy conditions will put a damper on scoring, but I like the Irish to find ways to get on the scoreboard, given how their offense has looked lately.
FINAL: Notre Dame 27, Stanford 14