Will the Irish get win No. 4 against a current Top 25 team?
When Notre Dame has the ball: Communication will be key up front, especially on the road with a first-time starter at center in Matt Hegarty against a relentless Stanford defense that has 34 sacks on the season, tied for sixth nationally. Being able to run the way they did last week is key for the Irish, as the Cardinal surrender just 89.5 yards on the ground per game, third-best in the nation.
When Stanford has the ball: Jarron Jones will need to play the way he did last week, and then some, as the Stanford offense likes to grind defenses down, something that is considerably easier to do against a defense that is banged up. Forcing Kevin Hogan into second- and third-long situations is key, as the Irish defense will probably need to come away with a few takeaways to give Notre Dame an advantage in the turnover margin and a real chance to escape with the win.
Intangible: Stanford is playing in the Dec. 7 Pac-12 title game against Arizona State no matter what, with the location of the matchup to be determined by Arizona State's matchup with Arizona. Notre Dame's bowl destination is not likely to be affected by a win or loss. Still, these rivals should have more than enough at stake, especially with a double-digit win season still on the table for the Irish.
Prediction: Stanford 27, Notre Dame 20. If the Irish play like they did last week, they will have a real chance at pulling the upset. Alas, the Cardinal will prove to be too big and too deep when it is all said and done.