Notre Dame football takes on No. 7 Stanford in a cross-country rivalry this week, with both teams looking for another statement win. Here’s a look at some of the key matchups between the Irish offense and Cardinal defense.
There’s no beating around this bush for this week’s matchup between Notre Dame football and Stanford — it is a huge game with major playoff implications for both teams. Both teams are coming in 4-0, with Stanford’s best win being last week’s comeback vs No. 20 Oregon. Both teams have seen a decline in their strength of schedule, making this game that much more important,
Stanford has been a struggle for Notre Dame in recent years, especially in the Brian Kelly era. Over the last eight meetings, Stanford has taken six of them with the two losses coming in the 2012 and 2014 thrillers. Historically, Stanford’s defense has been a blue-collar bunch that gets after the quarterback — especially the front-seven.
This season, however, the Cardinal defense isn’t as dominant or imposing as they have been in years past. Lost experience and production across all three levels of the defense has left question marks and holes to fill coming into the 2018 season,
So far through four games, Stanford’s defense hasn’t been terrible. They are currently ranked 57th in the nation, giving up 357 total yards a game, 84th in the nation giving up 234 passing yards a game, and 39th in the nation allowing 123 rushing yards a game. Stanford has so far done a great job of keeping opponents out of the endzone — giving up a measly 13.5 points per game, which is 10th in the country.
Now, these stats are somewhat misleading, as their first three games included San Diego State, a struggling USC team with a true freshman quarterback, and UC Davis. When they played a much better Oregon team last week, Stanford’s defense was gashed by the up-tempo playing style to the tune of 31 points and over 520 yards of offense.
After the success of last week with Book commanding the huddle and with the return of running back Dexter Williams, there is a lot of optimism surrounding the Irish offense. If Notre Dame can win individual and positional matchups when they have the ball, it should be a great night.
Here are the best matchups to watch for when the Irish have the ball.