Notre Dame needs a big win and a lot of help to jump back into the top four of the College Football Playoff rankings, and a road win against a ranked opponent would be a step in the right direction. The ninth-ranked Fighting Irish will try to pull off another signature win when they visit No. 20 Stanford on Saturday.
Notre Dame bounced back from a 41-8 loss at Miami that seemed to doom its playoff hopes by outlasting Navy 24-10 last week, and a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl is a strong possibility with a win in the regular-season finale on Saturday. “They get a chance to do something that not a lot of teams can do, and that is win 10 games,” Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly told reporters of his senior class. “So, they can be an elite class two out of the last three years in winning 10 games or more. Ten is the number, but they can win 11.” The Cardinal gave themselves a chance at the Pac-12 North title and a spot in the conference championship game with a 17-14 win over California last week and are looking for their own spot in a New Year’s Six bowl. “Being resilient is the most important characteristic for me because life is tough,” Stanford coach David Shaw told reporters. “So being left for dead after the third game of the year and winning seven out of the next eight is outstanding.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: Notre Dame -2.
ABOUT NOTRE DAME (9-2): Fighting Irish junior running back Josh Adams needs 101 yards on Saturday to break the school’s single-season record set by Vagas Ferguson in 1979 (1,437). Adams, who moved into fifth place on the school’s career list last week, is beginning to field questions about whether he will opt for the NFL Draft after this season. “I owe this team too much to bring the focus on myself,” Adams told reporters. “We’ve worked too hard in the offseason and leading up to this point for anybody, anybody, on this team to get selfish. We still have a lot we want to accomplish and we’re not going to let anybody take us away from the goal we have set for ourselves. ... I owe those guys too much to even think about something like that right now.”
ABOUT STANFORD (8-3): The Cardinal have their own star running back in junior Bryce Love, who is second nationally with 1,723 yards. Love broke free for a 57-yard score and finished with 101 yards on 14 carries last weekend against California but was off the field at the end of the game due to ankle issues that have plagued him for the last month, and he is day-to-day. “I thought about taking him out of the game before that long run because he was in a lot of pain,” Shaw told reporters. “And then watching him outrun the whole defense on 1 1/2 ankles was unbelievable. ... Injured or not, there’s nobody catching Bryce once he gets up to full speed - 80 percent, 90 percent, whatever he was. So much pride, so much determination. That’s why he’s one of the best college football players you’re going to see.”
1. Notre Dame WR Equanimeous St. Brown is in the concussion protocol and is questionable for Saturday.
2. The Cardinals will win the Pac-12 North and clinch a spot in the conference championship game if Washington beats Washington State on Saturday.
3. Stanford won the last two in the annual series, and the last five meetings have each been decided by seven or fewer points.
PREDICTION: Stanford 20, Notre Dame 19