The Fighting Irish head into this matchup with a perfect 5-0 record at stake. The No.7 Irish have one of the nation's best defenses led by senior Linebacker Manti Te'o. The defense has only given up 3 touchdowns all season and has only allowed an average of 7.8 points per game. Although the secondary is not the greatest, they have played well enough not to cost the Fighting Irish any games. Overall, the defense is an exceptionally solid unit, the offense however, is another story.
Notre Dame will enter this game with a rather interesting situation at Quarterback. It's almost like they use their quarterbacks as if they were baseball pitchers. They typically start sophomore Quarterback Everett Golson, but if he is not having a good game they bring in "relief" Quarterback Tommy Rees. Golson however, is coming of his best game of the season against the Miami Hurricanes. The Irish hope that Golson builds off his success and that he can lead them to the National Championship Game this year.
The real highlight of the Notre Dame offense though is their rushing attack. They have a 3 headed monster in George Atkinson III, Theo Riddick, and Cierre Wood, that have been giving opposing defenses headaches all season. Last week against Miami, they combined for a total of 262 yards and 4 Touchdowns on the ground. In order to get the win Saturday, the Irish will need elite performances from all three of them.
With a loss, Stanford's National Championship and Rose Bowl chances may be crushed. Therefore, this game will be huge for Head Coach David Shaw and the Cardinal.
Despite a disaster last week against Arizona, Stanford also has a very solid defense. They have a group of studs in Chase Thomas, Ben Gardner, Trent Murphy and Shane Skov at the Linebacker position. This group of Linebackers have racked up a total of 53 Tackles and 6.5 Sacks through 5 games.
The Stanford offense has been very inconsistent this year. However, many believe that Quarterback Josh Nunes has finally found his groove after a big comeback win last week. Nunes, the Junior from Upland, CA, showed glimpses of stardom when he and the Stanford Offense scored 14 unanswered points in the 4th quarter of a thrilling OT win vs. Arizona.
Stanford's offensive strength though resides in their pair of athletic Tight Ends. Both Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo, 6-6 and 6-8 respectively, have been causing big matchup problems this year with their elite size and speed. Ertz leads the Stanford receiving core in yards while Toilolo is the yards per catch leader.
Prediction: This Game will be a defensive showdown. Although both offenses will struggle, the offense that struggles the least will end up winning the game. Stanford's Tight ends may cause some problems for the Notre Dame defense.
Toilolo and Ertz will make the difference in this one, and will lead Stanford to a 20-13 win against the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. Stanford will stay alive on their road to the National Championship Game while Notre Dame will be left in the dust.846057