STANFORD CARDINAL (4-1)
at NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (5-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Notre Dame -8, Total: 44˝
Sizzling hot No. 7 Notre Dame looks to showcase its dominant defense when it hosts No. 17 Stanford on Saturday afternoon.
After losing seven in a row to Notre Dame from 2002-2008, Stanford has won three straight meetings, 45-38, 37-14 and 28-14 last year behind four Andrew Luck TD passes. Last week, it was Luck’s replacement Josh Nunes throwing for 360 yards and 2 TD in a 54-48 overtime win over Arizona. The Irish defense has been incredible during a three-game ATS win streak, allowing a total of 12 points to Michigan State, Michigan and Miami. Notre Dame also scored 41 points with 587 total yards versus the ‘Canes last week.
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After struggling at Washington (18-of-37, 170 yds, 0 TD, 1 INT), Nunes was outstanding in last week's win over Arizona, completing 21-of-34 passes for 360 yards and 2 TD, while rushing for 33 yards and three scores. Nunes will not likely have the services of WR Ty Montgomery (168 receiving yards), who is doubtful to play because of a lower body injury sustained last week. However, the key to Stanford's offense is wildly inconsistent RB Stepfan Taylor who has 555 rushing yards (including 142 last week), but hasn't put together two straight 100-yard games this year. But he does have consecutive century mark efforts against Notre Dame, galloping for 226 yards on 48 carries (4.7 YPC) in the past two meetings. Stanford's pass defense was atrocious last week, surrendering 491 passing yards, but it has been tough on the run all year, ranking seventh in the nation with 77.2 rushing YPG allowed. This low rushing number has been a product of the Cardinal's 2.8 sacks per game and 8.6 Tackles For Loss per game. Stanford has also done a nice job of creating turnovers with 11 takeaways over five games.
Everett Golson is coming off a great performance against Miami, completing 17-of-22 passes for 186 yards. He also ran for 51 yards on just six carries, helping the Irish surpass 125 rushing yards for the first time since their season opener. RBs Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III each topped 100 yards against the Hurricanes and combined for three touchdowns. However, Wood found little room to run against Stanford last year, gaining just 41 yards on 12 carries. The offense doesn't have a whole lot of pressure to score though, considering how tremendous the defense has been. Notre Dame is giving up just 7.8 points per game, three total touchdowns and 290 total yards per game, despite playing against Navy and four BCS conference members. LB Manti Te'o has been a tackling machine (9.5 per game), while adding two interceptions, three QB hurries and a fumble recovery. Sophomore DL Stephon Tuitt has anchored a stout defensive line, registering six sacks and five QB hurries in the five games. Notre Dame did not force a turnover last week, but tallied six takeaways versus Michigan in the prior game.