Notre Dame will close out their rollercoaster season with one last tough test on the road against the Stanford Cardinals. Stanford will be ready to put a beat down on Notre Dame after a controversial loss last year in overtime that ended on the goal line. Notre Dame has to come out ready to pay on both sides of the ball if they want to have any chance against a talented Stanford team.
Notre Dame’s key to the game will be not turning the ball over. The Irish always find themselves in big trouble when they cannot take care of the football. Quarterback Tommy Rees has to limit his mistakes and try to establish a good rhythm on offense early on. The running backs are going to have to get going again in order to ease Rees’ workload.
Notre Dame was able to rush for 235-yards last week against BYU but will now be up against a stout Stanford defense. The Cardinal defense is only conceding an average of 89.5-yards rushing per game. Notre Dame’s offense will have to keep attacking and finding holes in the Stanford defense. The Irish could use a big play on offense and will likely look to get senior T.J. Jones involved.
The Notre Dame defense will have their work cut out for them. Louis Nix will not be clogging up the middle for the Irish after doctors decided a torn meniscus will sideline him for the remainder of the season. Notre Dame can’t afford to let Nix’s absence show and have to figure out how to get a push on the capable offensive linemen of Stanford. The Irish will have a better chance if they can disrupt Stanford's rushing attack.
A rivalry has developed between the two schools with the inspiration being both team’s desire to be the lone academic powerhouse. ESPN reported that Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly weighed in on what this game could mean for the Irish saying, "Both teams want to be the smartest, toughest football teams in the country. Stanford right now is ranked eighth in the country. We are ranked 25th. We get a chance to decide it on the football field and so last year we were able to get Stanford. Now we've got a chance to settle it again on Saturday."
Notre Dame can make a statement with a win over the top ten Stanford Cardinals. The Irish need to not only play well but a total team effort in order to have a shot against Stanford. A win over Stanford would be a great way for Notre Dame to close out the regular season and regain some respect in college football.