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No. 8 Stanford favored big over No. 25 Notre Dame
By: Robert Livingston - StatFox
Published: 11/30/2013  at  4:28:00 AM
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NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (8-3)
at STANFORD CARDINAL (9-2)

Kickoff: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Stanford -14.5, Total: 49

Looking to avenge a loss to the Fighting Irish from last season, No. 8 Stanford will finish the regular season against a newly-ranked No. 25 Notre Dame squad seeking its second win against a ranked opponent this season.

Stanford is coming off a 63-13 thumping of California, rebounding strongly after a stunning loss to USC the week before. With the win, the Cardinal improved to 4-1 (SU and ATS) in their past five games. Overall, they are 6-5 ATS, with a 4-2 mark at home. Notre Dame upset BYU 23-13 last week as a three-point underdog on the road to move to 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS in its past six games. The Irish are 4-6-1 overall ATS, while that win was their first cover on the road, where they are 1-3 ATS. They are also 1-2 (SU and ATS) this season against ranked foes, with the lone win and cover coming against Arizona State. They also notably beat USC while they were unranked. While Notre Dame won last year’s matchup between these two teams, Stanford covered the nine-point spread in the 20-13 overtime contest. And with the Cardinal winning the two previous matchups, they are 2-1 SU and 3-0 ATS over the past three years. And this could be another big game for the Stanford passing attack, as the Cardinal are 13-2 ATS over the past three seasons against poor passing defenses.

Can Stanford win big over rival Notre Dame on Saturday? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 regular season and bowl season. The four experts are a combined 52% ATS (109-101-7) in college football Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Dave who is 59% ATS (33-23-2) in Best Bets this season, including 69% ATS (20-9-1) during a run of eight straight weeks of .500 or better. StatFox Brian is 54% ATS (30-26-1) in college football Best Bets this year.

Notre Dame QB Tommy Rees was a hero in last year’s win against Stanford, coming in for overtime and going 4-for-4 including the game-winning TD. This year he’s been called upon often and thrown for an impressive 2,739 yards, 25 TD and 11 INT. However, he has just a 54.5% completion rate. On the ground, Cam McDaniel (603 rush yards, 4.6 YPC, 3 TD) and George Atkinson III (554 rush yards, 6.2 YPC, 3 TD) lead the way. Rees’ top target has been TJ Jones (986 rec. yards, 16.7 avg., 8 TD). He caught four passes for 52 yards in last year’s contest, including the overtime score. DaVaris Daniels (641 rec. yards, 15.6 avg., 6 TD) has also been a top-notch receiving threat. The Notre Dame defense has been solid this year, giving up only 22.5 PPG on 4.1 YPC on the ground and 60.4% passing. The Irish will look to replicate last year when they limited Stanford to 125 passing yards, 0 TD and 2 INT with just 3.7 YPC on the ground.

As those numbers show, Josh Nunes struggled against the Fighting Irish defense last year, but QB Kevin Hogan is under center this season. He’s completing 61% of his passes for 18 TD and 7 INT, totaling 2,052 yards. He tossed five touchdowns against Cal last week, snapping a three-week stretch in which he didn’t find the end zone at all. In that span, he was picked off twice, both in the loss to USC. His favorite target without a doubt has been Ty Montgomery (822 rec. yards, 16.4 avg., 9 TD), who caught four of those scores against the Golden Bears. RB Tyler Gaffney also leads a strong Cardinal rushing attack, scoring 16 times on 1,296 yards and 5.2 YPC. The Cardinal defense gives up 18.9 PPG (13th in FBS), and most of that is because of the front seven that gives up a stingy 3.0 YPC. Stanford has also forced at least one turnover in every game this season, but has not generated more than two takeaways in any 2013 contest.

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