No. 17 Stanford comes to town to take on No. 7 Notre Dame. Is this the year the Irish stop their three-game losing streak to the Cardinal?
When Stanford has the ball: Josh Nunes is a bit of a wild card under center, but he has a pair of big weapons in his tight ends: 6-foot-8 Levine Toilolo and 6-6 Zach Ertz. He also has an outstanding running back behind him in Stepfan Taylor, though he is likely without top wideout Ty Montgomery. The Cardinal offense has been in many ways like Notre Dame's, as it did not put up a lot of points before breaking out for 54 in an overtime win last weekend against Arizona. Stanford is similar to Michigan State offensively -- as Manti Te'o said this week -- but having a pair of big, pass-catching tight ends adds another dimension.
When Notre Dame has the ball: Everett Golson had the kind of breakout performance last weekend that everyone was waiting for. But Miami's defense, simply, is not Stanford's. The Cardinal lead, Notre Dame players and coaches said, by intimidation, as they are sound and disciplined. They forced Tommy Rees out of the game in last year's meeting, and will make Golson feel it if he takes off running. They have, however, allowed a 100-yard rusher in each of their past two games. They will certainly have a chip on their shoulder after surrendering 48 points to Arizona last week after entering the game giving up only 15.25 points per game.
Intangible: Block out the noise, as Brian Kelly would say. All eyes are on the Irish now that they are 5-0. College GameDay is in town, NBC is filming its studio show on-site as well, and the team is a win away from getting to the halfway point of its season unblemished. Turnovers and mental lapses will be costly against a team like Stanford, so the Irish need to be focused Saturday.
Prediction: Notre Dame 17, Stanford 9