The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will host the Stanford Cardinal on Saturday night for a huge matchup. Both teams come into this game with a 4-0 record and hopes of reaching the College Football Playoffs this season. Stanford blew out Notre Dame last season, beating them 38-20 in the final week of the regular season.
Notre Dame defeated 14th ranked Michigan in the season opener, and haven’t looked back since. The Irish blew out Wake Forest, 56-27, last week in their most impressive victory of the season. Stanford already has a pair of top-25 victories this season. The Cardinal beat USC 17-3 in week two, and rallied for a 38-31 overtime victory over Oregon last weekend. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are -5.5 in this game on Saturday.
Irish Starting Book at QB
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly gave Ian Book the starting quarterback job last weekend, and he saw immediate results. Book accounted for five touchdowns in the Fighting Irish blowout win over Wake Forest. The junior quarterback threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for three more. The Irish offense looked more complete with Book under center.
The Irish are getting a huge boost this weekend as running back Dexter Williams is expected to play against Stanford. Williams is a physical runner who averaged 9.2 yards per carry last season for Notre Dame. He has eight career touchdowns, and should be on the field in the red zone this weekend. The Irish rushing attack should take some pressure off of Book in this game.
Stanford Needs Love To Be Great
Senior running back Bryce Love was the Heisman Trophy runner-up last season, but he is off to a slow start in 2018. Love is averaging just 4.3 yards per carry after averaging more than eight yards per carry last season. He has found the end zone just twice this season, after scoring 19 times in 2017. If Stanford is going to win at Notre Dame on Saturday night, Love will need to have a big performance.
The Stanford passing attack has been carrying the offense all season long with quarterback K.J. Costello leading the way. Costello threw four touchdown passes in last season’s win over Notre Dame, and will look to have the same luck this time around. Wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside is a nightmare problem for any team, and should find success against the Notre Dame defense in this game.
Irish Win, Stanford Covers
Stanford was fortunate to escape Oregon with a win last weekend, but needs to play much better in this game. The Cardinal offensive line has struggled to create holes for Love to run through this season. If Stanford can find a way to get balance on offense, they could leave Notre Dame with a victory.
Notre Dame just looks like a different offense with Book leading the way. The Notre Dame defense will be tested by the Cardinal offense in this game, but they should get enough stops to secure the victory. This game is going to be tight all the way, and taking Stanford with the points is the safe bet. Bet the Fighting Irish on Saturday.