Game of the Week: Stanford vs. Notre Dame
Alongside the much anticipated Big Ten showdown between Penn State and Ohio State, all eyes will once again be on the seventh-ranked Stanford Cardinal as they travel to South Bend to take on the eighth-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET, and the game will be televised on NBC.
Stanford looks to further pad its impressive early-season resume. The Cardinal have already taken down USC at home and overcame a 24-7 deficit on the road against Oregon last week to escape with a 38-31 victory in overtime.
Junior quarterback K.J. Costello remains a vital asset to the success of Stanford this season, ranking third in the PAC-12 in passer rating and second in touchdown-to-interception ratio. Combine the efficient quarterback with preseason All-American running back Bryce Love, and the Cardinal can surely compete with any team in the nation.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame has been experiencing a quarterback conundrum. Senior Brandon Wimbush has struggled mightily at the position, only throwing one touchdown pass to four interceptions in the first three games of the season and only completing 55 percent of his passes. Wimbush’s turnover woes have caused the Fighting Irish to struggle mightily, only averaging 23 points per game with him on the field. However, coach Brian Kelly might have found his answer.
Last Saturday, junior Ian Book started in place of Wimbush against Wake Forest. Book rushed for a modest 43 yards, but three of his rushing attempts went for touchdowns. Book excelled even more through the air, completing 25 of 34 pass attempts for 325 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The change in quarterbacks may have finally solidified the passing attack and ball security issues for Notre Dame. Going against a Stanford defense that conceded 346 passing yards last week, look for Book to take shots towards his receivers early and often.
In addition to Book’s success, the Fighting Irish hope to welcome back senior running back Dexter Williams for his season debut. After averaging just over nine yards per attempt in limited action last year, look for him to have a potentially large impact Saturday night.
While both offenses seem capable of scoring on the stellar defenses which oppose them, the key matchup to watch will be Love against the Notre Dame defensive front. Love has struggled to find his rhythm from a season ago out of the gate. Understandably, injuries have played a role for the Heisman candidate running back. However, now that Love appears healthy, he will need to put up his best performance so far against a Fighting Irish defense that has already held the likes of Michigan to 58 yards on the ground.
Notre Dame sits as five-point favorites, but Stanford has won the last three meetings in the series. However, the home field advantage, along with the running game of Ian Book, might prove to give the Fighting Irish a slight edge in what appears to be a very even match on paper.
Prediction: Notre Dame 38, Stanford 31
Andre Magaro is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org