Top-25 action continues with a late afternoon (3:30pm ET) game this Saturday featuring the 17th ranked Stanford Cardinal (4-1) traveling to South Bend, IN to take on the undefeated and 7th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-0). Stanford is 2-3 ATS this season, dropping their last two games against the spread, last week with a 54-48 win over Arizona on a 10 point line and the previous week in a 17-13 loss at Washington as a 7 point favorite. Notre Dame is 4-1 ATS this season, winners of 3 straight against the spread including a 41-3 shellacking of Miami in Chicago last week as a 15 point favorite.
The Stanford offense has employed a ground-and-pound style of play this season that has relied heavily on the running of tailback Stepfan Taylor (555 yards rushing, 6 TDs) to rank 50th among FBS teams in scoring offense with 31.6 points per game and 84th in total offense with 384.4 yards per game. The Cardinal defense has slipped a bit in the national ranks after last week’s shootout win over Arizona in which the Cardinal allowed 617 yards of total offense and an astounding 38 first downs to the Wildcats. Stanford still ranks 42nd in scoring defense with 21.8 PPG allowed and 55th in total defense with 376.6 YPG allowed. They have been one of the toughest teams in the country to run on, ranking 7th with a measly 77.4 rushing YPG allowed.
Notre Dame appears to have settled on Everett Golson (827 yards passing, 3 TDs, 3 INTs) under center for now, but Tommy Rees has been inserted at key junctures of close games this season, and Coach Brian Kelly could certainly go to him again in this game if the right situation arises. Overall the Irish rank 63rd in scoring offense with 28.8 PPG and 72nd in total offense with 398.4 YPG. The defense has carried ND through close wins over Purdue (20-17) and Michigan (13-6) this season, and has only allowed more than 10 points in the Purdue game. The Irish rank 2nd in the nation in scoring defense with 7.8 PPG allowed and 14th in total defense with 290 YPG allowed.
Stanford vs. Notre Dame Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Stanford Cardinal +7
@ Notre Dame Fighting Irish -7
Over 44 (-110)
Under 44 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Stanford vs. Notre Dame Pick:
In taking a look at the trends, Stanford has a 9-1 record ATS in their last 10 non-conference games and a 12-3-1 record ATS in their last 16 road games. Notre Dame is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 October games and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games on grass. The under is 5-2 in Stanford’s last 7 road games and also 5-2 in their last 7 games against independent teams. The under is 4-0 in ND’s last 4 games overall, 17-5 in their last 22 home games and 19-6-1 in their last 25 games on grass. In head-to-head play, the under is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings between the two teams in South Bend. Stanford has won three straight in the series, including a 28-14 win last season in Palo Alto as a 7 point favorite that came in well under the over/under of 59.5.
These two teams are both very physical, strong teams at the point of attack that rely on their defenses to carry much of the load. Notre Dame had a breakout game offensively last week, and Stanford had a breakdown defensively in their game, but both teams should return to form in this game. Expect the game to be tight until the end; it is difficult to call a winner here as both teams have played close games against top competition this season. The trend in the series favors the under, and with ND possessing one of the best defensive units in the country and struggling for much of the year to generate consistent production on offense the smart play is the under here. Take the under in this game.
PICK = Under 44