Notre Dame vs. Stanford Odds, Picks: Expect Fighting Irish to Roll
Michael Hickey/Getty Images. Pictured: Notre Dame Fighting Irish football teammates.
Notre Dame vs. Stanford Odds
|Notre Dame Odds|
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
After a one-year hiatus brought on by COVID-19, the No. 6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish travel to Palo Alto to renew their annual series with the Stanford Cardinal.
Notre Dame is trying to complete an 11-1 season and secure its seventh-straight victory in order to keep alive its hopes for a second-straight trip to the College Football Playoff.
The Cardinal, meanwhile, will be trying to close out a very disappointing season by securing a major upset over Notre Dame. After upending Oregon 31-24 in October, the Cardinal have seen their season collapse under the weight of a six-game losing skid.
Can Stanford show some fight to end the year? Or will Notre Dame win big in hopes of leaving a strong final impression on the committee? Let’s get into it.
Notre Dame comes into this contest playing its best football of the year.
The 55-0 win over Georgia Tech marked the third-straight game that the defense did not allow a touchdown, and the offense is finding its stride after some early-season struggles under fifth-year transfer quarterback Jack Coan.
Improved Offensive Line Play Has Fueled Offense
The Notre Dame offense is finally hitting on all cylinders after struggling early along the offensive line. After inserting Joe Alt at left tackle, and Andrew Kristofic at left guard, the Notre Dame offensive line has made steady improvement over the last two months.
The greatest beneficiary of the improved line play has been Coan. After coming off the bench to lead a late comeback against Virginia Tech, Coan’s play has markedly improved. Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees has adjusted the play calling to help Coan get rid of the ball quickly and decisively.
In addition to Coan’s passing, it’s the running of All-America candidate Kyren Williams that’s the real key to the Notre Dame attack.
Williams is 20th nationally in all-purpose yards, and his 15 touchdowns are good for 15th-best in the country. Williams should pass the 1,000-yard mark against Stanford.
The other go-to option within the Notre Dame offense is tight end Michael Mayer.
Mayer’s 55 receptions in 2021 put him in range of Tyler Eifert’s school record 63 catches. He’s Coan’s most reliable target over the middle of the field and has picked up some critical third-down conversions throughout the season.
Notre Dame Defense Continues To Be Stout
After some early inconsistency in adapting new defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman’s aggressive defensive scheme, the Irish defense appears to have found its footing, even with the loss of All-American safety Kyle Hamilton.
The Irish have turned up the pressure under Freeman. Notre Dame is fourth in the nation with 38 sacks and in range of eclipsing the program record of 41. Notre Dame has also been stout in the red zone, coming in at sixth in the country in Defensive Finishing Drives.
In its last three games, Notre Dame’s defense has allowed a total of nine points and has scored two touchdowns of its own along the way.
The defensive line is the strength of the team, led by end Isaiah Foskey and tackle Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa. Stanford will be hard-pressed to cross the goal line against this unit.
After ascending to the top of the Pac-12, the wheels have come off for David Shaw and the Cardinal over the past few seasons.
Injuries and other issues have derailed Stanford this season, and it now sits at 3-8 as it welcomes Notre Dame to town for the season finale.
Stanford Offense Has Lacked Consistency
After taking over for Jim Harbaugh, Shaw continued the offensive proficiency he displayed as the Stanford OC. Shaw’s combination of power running and elite pro-style QB play led the Cardinal to three Pac-12 titles in his first six years at the helm.
Now, he is facing his second losing season in three years.
Quarterback play has had a lot to do with the regression, but this year under 6-foot-6 Tanner McKee, the Cardinal appeared to have the strong-armed pocket passer that they like.
McKee has serviceable numbers, completing 64% of his passes for 2,155 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The signal-caller’s main targets have been TE Benjamin Yurosek (37 receptions, 566 yards) and WR Elijah Higgins (42 receptions 491 yards). The problem is that the unit is scoring only 20.9 points per game.
Offensive line issues have accounted for 67 penalties in 11 games and a rushing average of only 3.03 yards per carry. The Cardinal have been forced to pass a ton, as they have been behind in most games during the losing streak.
Cardinal Defense Likely In For A Long Night
Defensive is where the real problems lie for the Cardinal.
Stanford has given up 30 points or more in eight of 11 games, including last week’s outing against Cal. The Golden Bears went for 353 yards rushing and 626 total yards of offense in the 41-11 beatdown of the Cardinal.
Two numbers that show how bad it’s been for the Stanford defense: The Cardinal rank 128th in the nation in Line Yards and 118th in Havoc.
The lone bright spot has been linebacker Levani Damuni and his team-leading 79 tackles.
Against the pass, the Cardinal are a bit better but not by a whole lot. The secondary is the strength of the defense led by CB Kyu Blu Kelly, who has two interceptions and 10 passes broken up.
It should be a long Saturday night for this group when it faces Williams and the rest of the Irish attack.
Notre Dame vs. Stanford Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Notre Dame and Stanford match up statistically:
Notre Dame Offense vs. Stanford Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Stanford Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||48||29|
|Plays per Minute||66||113|
|Rush Rate||53.3% (78)||46.6% (118)|
Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.
Notre Dame vs. Stanford Betting Pick
Betting lines have been slow to catch up with Notre Dame’s improvement and still reflect the Irish’s early struggles. ND opened as 17-point favorites in this one, and the line now rests at -19 at the time of writing.
While Shaw has pride and generally has his team up for Notre Dame, it’s hard to see how the Cardinal stay in this game given their defensive struggles against offenses far below the caliber of the Irish.
Notre Dame will not be shy about pouring it on in its last chance to impress the College Football Playoff committee. I’m rolling with the Irish to easily cover the 19-point spread.
Pick: Notre Dame -19
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