Two traditional rivals meet this Saturday night (8:00pm ET) game in week 13 of the 2011 college football season with two BCS bowl contenders in the 24th ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-3), who travel to Palo Alto, CA to take on the 8th ranked Stanford Cardinal (10-1). The Fighting Irish are winners of four straight contests heading into this game, including a 16-14 squeaker over Boston College in their home finale last week in which they did not cover the 24 point line. Stanford squeaked by PAC 12 and Bay-area rival Cal 31-28 at home last week, failing to cover a 17 point line, after losing their first contest of the season to Oregon 53-30 the previous week. Notre Dame is 5-6 ATS this season, while Stanford is 9-2 ATS this year.
The Notre Dame offense ranks 37th in scoring with 32 points per game and 33rd in total offense with 434.5 yards per game under the direction of quarterback Tommy Rees (2,648 yards passing, 19 TDs, 11 INTs). The Irish defense has been much improved this season, ranking 22nd in scoring defense with 20.3 PPG allowed and 28th in total defense with 341.5 YPG allowed. Stanford has an offense that ranks 4th in scoring offense with 45 PPG and 10th in total offense with 487 YPG; with Heisman Trophy-contender Andrew Luck (2,954 yards passing, 31 TDs, 8 INTs) under center. The Cardinal defense ranks 29th in scoring with 20.9 PPG allowed and 24th in total defense with 333.1 YPG allowed.
Notre Dame vs. Stanford Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Notre Dame Fighting Irish +7
@ Stanford Cardinal -7
Over 58 (-110)
Under 58 (-110)
Betting odds taken from BetOnline.com
Notre Dame vs. Stanford Pick:
Notre Dame is 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games as an underdog and 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games as a road underdog. Stanford is 6-0 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games and 7-2 ATS in their last 8 games as a home favorite. The under is 9-3-1 in the Fighting Irish’s last 13 games on grass and 11-4 in their last 15 games as a road underdog. The over is 4-1 in Stanford’s last 5 games overall and 21-7 in the Cardinal’s last 28 games against a team with a winning record. The road team is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings head-to-head, and the Irish are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 meetings in Palo Alto and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 meetings overall. Stanford has won the last 2 meetings including last year in South Bend by a score of 37-14 to cover the 4 point line.
With a defense that is tougher than they are given credit for and an offense that has recently been less mistake-prone than they were earlier in the season, Notre Dame has the tools to pull off the upset in this game. Stanford plays a physical, pound-the-rock style that is difficult for teams in the less-physical PAC 12 to deal with, but ND has the type of athletes on defense in LB Manti Te’o and Safety Harrison Smith that matchup well against the Cardinal. Notre dame can go on the road and shut down the Stanford running attack and keep Luck under control just enough to pull off an upset. The key for Rees and company on offense will be to avoid turnovers on the road, which they have been able to do lately. ND and the points is a solid play here as Stanford has shown less intensity in recent weeks and looks ripe for an upset as they limp to the finish line of the regular season.