These aren’t your fathers Stanford Cardinal. Heck, they aren’t even your brothers’ Stanford Cardinal. What Jim Harbaugh has done with this school is astounding. And he doesn’t get enough credit for it. 3-0 and really good, Stanford may be a dark horse for a Pac – 10 title and a BCS bid. Heck, if Oregon State loses to Boise State, would it be insane to call it a two horse race? Or, more aptly, a Duck and Tree race?
When Notre Dame steps on the field on Saturday, it will be like having dinner with your more successful younger brother. The Cardinal represent everything Notre Dame could be and everything they aren’t. Here’s a school with similar, if not more stringent, academic standards, and still, they are able to compete at a high level.
They are the example of why institutions of way higher learning can compete at the division one level, not Notre Dame. The Cardinal hasn’t “beat the system,” but instead has learned how to deal with it. Brian Kelly and company should learn a lot from what Harbaugh has built. If I’m Brian Kelly, I try and pick big Jim’s brain sometime. He knows what he’s doing.
And with that….the keys:
1. Stop the run – For the third consecutive week, Notre Dame faces a team that runs the ball very effectively. They haven’t had much luck with the prior two, but maybe a change in the opponents home state will change some of the results. Stepfan Taylor averages over 5 yards a carry. Tyler Gaffney averages 6. They haven’t run the ball per game as much as other teams, but when they do, it’s very effective.
2. Score fast, score early – Not that facing Andrew Luck and the dynamic Stanford passing game is easy, but if Notre Dame can get Stanford to abandon the run early, they might have a chance. In reality, anything the Cardinal does on offense is probably bad news, but Notre Dame can’t stop the run at all. Hey, it’s always better to play to your strengths….right?
3. Have good luck, make luck bad – The only way Notre Dame wins this game is if Andrew Luck isn’t good. Notre Dame has too many problems on defense to overcome a good performance by one of the nation’s top players. If they can eliminate the run with some early scores and force Luck into a few mistakes, they’ll have a chance to win on the final drive. Given that Notre Dame hasn’t won a game against a ranked team the last ten tries, the Irish may need a little luck of there own Saturday. But isn’t it about time Notre Dame had something go their way?
The Pick: Stanford 35 Notre Dame 21 –
This has blow – out written all over it. Stanford is way too good offensively for the Notre Dame defense to compete with. If they contain Andrew Luck, it’ll be the run game that can’t be handled. If the run defense is solid, Luck could have a field day. It’s not on offense where you stop an aspect of it and take your chances with the other. It’s way more dangerous then that.
Dayne Crist has to play more consistently, as well. While he’s done a good job limiting mistakes, he’s floated in and out of games. A big fourth quarter won’t be there to be had if Crist can’t move the ball consistently.
About the Author
Written by Jordan Lauterbach
Jordan Lauterbach began his career in sports media when he was just 15 years old at WKWZ - Syosset. He hosted a sports talk show for nearly four years before moving on to WCWP - Brookville in 2006. Lauterbach currently hosts a sports talk show every Wednesday night from 9pm - midnight (eastern) and a College Football talk show on Saturday mornings from 11am - 12:30 (eastern) (can be heard online at wcwpsports.com and on Long Island on 88.1fm). Follow me on twiiter: jlauterbach1