Notre Dame Football: Fighting Irish Take on the Stanford Cardinal Saturday Night

No. 22 Notre Dame Fighting Irish at No. 6 Stanford Cardinal
Saturday, 11/26/11, 8:00 PM EST, TV:  ABC
Opening Point Spread:  Stanford -6.5
Current Betting Line:  Stanford -7
Opening Total:  58
Current Total:  58
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Stanford Football
The Stanford Cardinal still have a shot at reaching the national title game

Notre Dame enters this prime-time contest as one of the hottest teams in the nation, winning four straight games, including a 16-14 win over the Boston College Eagles as 24-point home favorites.  The Fighting Irish certainly now that they will need to play great rush defense to remain competitive against one of the better teams in the country.  “We know they’re going to get their yardage, they’re going to run the football, they’re an outstanding football team,” stated Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly.  It’s important to note that only four teams have allowed fewer rushing touchdowns than the eight scores Notre Dame has given up on the ground.  Over the last two-plus seasons, the team is 6-1 ATS as an underdog.

The Fighting Irish will be meeting the Cardinal for the 26th time Saturday inside Stanford Stadium, entering with a 17-8 advantage in the series.  Notre Dame will look to continue getting off to quick starts, scoring on its first possession in six of the last seven games.  Offensively, the team will be without the services of running back Jonas Gray, but Cierre Wood gives the backfield tremendous depth.  The duo were on pace to become the program’s first pair of 1,000-yard rushers in any particular season.

Stanford still has a legitimate shot of making the BCS Championship Game and could earn a spot in the Pac-12 championship game with a victory and a loss by Oregon versus Oregon State in the Civil War.  “All we can do is go out and play our game,” stated Cardinal coach David Shaw in practice this week.  The Cardinal have won 22 of 25 home games dating back to the final home contest of the 2007 season, coming in as the second-best offense in the conference in averaging 45 points a game.  Stanford is 21-8 ATS as a favorite the last two-plus campaigns.

The Cardinal have scored 30 or more points in 14 consecutive games dating back to last season and lead the conference in four defensive categories as well, including giving up just 93 rushing yards per game.  Stanford has always jumped on opponents in the early going, outscoring teams by a 510-193 margin in the first 30 minutes in the past 23 games.  Heisman Trophy candidate Andrew Luck is just one touchdown pass away from tying John Elway’s school-record mark of 77.

Bettors will likely back the Fighting Irish due to their 5-0 ATS mark as a road underdog, while the Cardinal are just 3-9 ATS versus teams that are independent.

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