No. 17 Notre Dame is heading West for a rivalry clash with Stanford on Saturday (11/25/23). Get Notre Dame vs. Stanford odds, picks and predictions below. Our best bet is Stanford +25.5.
Notre Dame vs. Stanford Prediction
With the future of out-of-conference scheduling so undefined, and conference realignment kicking in, we should savor the rivalry games this weekend. This game is one of those matchups. Notre Dame is famously independent, while Stanford will be moving to the ACC next year as the Pac-12 crumbles. It’s hard to know how or if this series will continue.
The Legends Trophy, awarded to the winner, is one of college football’s best. The trophy is composed of an Irish crystal bowl on a California redwood base. The teams first met in the 1925 Rose Bowl, but the modern series didn’t begin until 1988. The teams met annually since, except for a hiatus in 1995 and ‘96.
Stanford has struggled in Year One of the Troy Taylor era. But even after losing to FCS Sacramento State, the Cardinal haven’t come close to the winless or one-win campaign projected by many. Stanford has won three games, and came close in a couple more. This team intercepted Heisman candidate Michael Penix and had a chance to go ahead with less than two minutes left against a still-undefeated Washington squad. They should not be taken lightly.
It hasn’t been a perfect season for Notre Dame either. They had high aspirations after transferring in quarterback Sam Hartman. The season will be viewed by many as a failure. Hartman and an elite defense will not bring a double-digit win regular season, nor a College Football Playoff berth.
Stanford is a huge underdog, but it currently hold the Legends Trophy after a shocking win in South Bend last year. The Cardinals haven’t lifted it in front of their home crowd since 2017. Capping off this season with a Senior Day win would be a phenomenal end to Taylor’s first year. The campaign included the biggest comeback in program history, an erased 29-0 deficit at Colorado. This would also be Stanford’s first home win of the season, and a nice reward for a fan base that hasn’t had too much to celebrate in recent years.
Part of handicapping games at this point in the season is evaluating motivation levels. It’s hard to imagine Notre Dame getting fired up to play on the road to wrap up what essentially amounts to a lost season. They’re not making the playoff or even a New Year’s Six bowl, and plenty of the team’s best players already have one eye on the NFL. Yes, the Fighting Irish should be able to win this one on cruise control, but don’t expect them to do much more.
This spread is a product of the actual talent differential between these two sides. In Week 6, for instance, it might be appropriate. But right now, given the respective mindsets of these two squads, it’s hard to imagine Notre Dame running away to this extent.
Notre Dame vs. Stanford Prediction: Stanford +25.5
Notre Dame vs. Stanford Best Odds
Stanford is a 25.5 point underdog at home, or a whopping +1200 on the moneyline. The visiting Notre Dame squad is -3000 to win, while the total is set at 51.5 with -110 odds on both sides.
Notre Dame vs. Stanford Key Matchups
Stanford isn’t going to be able to consistently move the ball on this Notre Dame defense. It will need top playmakers to find some big gainers. On the other side of the ball, Notre Dame will look to impose its will on the ground and run through this game.
Stanford Passing Attack vs. Notre Dame Pass Defense
We can’t talk about Stanford without talking about Elic Ayomanor, who historically reeled in almost 300 yards in that comeback against Colorado. He needs 45 in this game to crack 1,000 for the season. Quarterback Ashton Daniels has shown some good flashes throwing the ball, and he’s a good enough athlete that he leads the team in rushing. Perhaps more importantly, he can stay mobile behind the line of scrimmage.
The issue for Stanford is that its relatively competent air game will be going up against the best pass defense in the country per EPA. Notre Dame is 16th in PFF’s pass rushing grade and sixth when it comes to coverage. Its secondary is one of the nation’s best, as corners Benjamin Morrison and Cam Hart are completely lockdown and safety Xavier Watts has snared seven picks this year.
Notre Dame Run Game vs. Stanford Ground Defense
The Notre Dame rushing offense is defined by a couple of names. One is the fantastic Audric Estime, perhaps the country’s most-talented running back. He has racked up over 1,100 yards as well as 14 rushing touchdowns. The other is superstar tackle Joe Alt, one of the best zone blockers in the country.
Stanford isn’t top-100 by either EPA or PFF’s grades when it comes to run blocking, so they’ll be at a huge disadvantage. The defensive line has had some productive contributors, like edge duo Tevarua Tafiti and Wilfredo Aybar. But the linebacker position, which has historically been a notable strength in Palo Alto, has been a total mess under coordinator and position specialist Bobby April.