Notre Dame Stanford Preview
NOTRE DAME TRIES TO STAY ALIVE IN TITLE RACE, THOUGH DECK IS STACKED AGAINST THEM AT STANFORD
Playing Stanford is a difficult enough challenge. The Cardinal are a smart, talented team that loves coming up with interesting wrinkles to befuddle opponents. Notre Dame is in a must-win situation as a road underdog in Palo Alto...and must battle jet lag after flying cross-country from Boston.
And, it's not like they played all that great in Boston!
The thrill of performing in Fenway Park turned into a bit of a nightmare thanks to FIVE turnovers that kept the evening way too interesting. Surviving 19-16 pushed the Irish to 10-1 on the season. But, it was a "bad" enough win that the selection committee dropped them to a precarious position. They went from controlling their own destiny to needing help over in the Big 10 (ND may need to both Iowa and Michigan State to lose, which can't happen if the Hawkeyes and Spartans take care of business this week).
All is not yet lost for Notre Dame. Let's see if they have a chance to make it to 11-1 at Stanford with a look at JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats...
Notre Dame: 10-1 (only loss was turnover fueled at #1 Clemson in the rain)
Stanford: 9-2 (champions of the Pac 12 North)
Notre Dame's resume was looking so good until Boston! Granting that they haven't faced a brutal schedule this season. It's better than what Iowa's faced! And an 11-1 record that includes wins over USC and Stanford with a blemish in bad weather against the #1 team...well, that should be enough to get in. Stanford would be knocking on the door of the Final Four themselves if not for a flat defensive performance vs Oregon and that season opening brain fart at Northwestern. We've seen this story before. Stanford can play with anybody...but they can't string together peak intensity for 12 weeks.
Notre Dame: 7.0 on offense, 5.5 on defense
Stanford: 6.5 on offense, 5.5 on defense
Rare to see an underdog have that big an edge in this important stat differential. Notre Dame is +1.5 yards-per-play while Stanford is only +1. Worth remembering because Notre Dame's offense is fairly similar to Oregon...and Oregon did win on THIS field. If jet lag isn't an issue, Notre Dame might actually be the better team.
2015 Turnover Differential
Notre Dame: -4
Bad news for both teams...and probably the main reason both will be playing in major bowls rather than the Final Four. You have to execute to earn a clean slate! Notre Dame had turnover troubles at Clemson prior to last week. Their offense wasn't supposed to be this high risk. And, Stanford's supposed to be smart! They aren't getting the best of the risk/reward challenge. Just a fractional per-game difference over 11 outings. Category's a wash.
2015 Market Performance
Notre Dame: 7-4 ATS
Stanford: 8-3 ATS
Both teams have been underrated...which is tough to do for programs that are highly respected at the beginning of a season. Stanford is 8-1 ATS except for the NW and Oregon slips. Notre Dame is 7-2 ATS without the turnover dark spots we've already discussed. Imagine how much these teams would be covering by if they were plus turnovers! Mostly very good news for backers...and a strike against oddsmakers.
Notre Dame: DeShone Kizer (175-272-9-1819 with 18 TDs)
Stanford: Kevin Hogan (168-250-7-2231 with 19 TDs)
Very similar TD/INT counts...though Hogan has A LOT more yardage on few completions. Edge to Stanford here...one which could blow up if the Irish are jet-lagged and unable to play sharp offensive football. Though, we should mention that Stanford might be a bit distracted with the Pac 12 Championship game coming up next week. You never know for sure with this team. They have troubled when they shouldn't.
Current Line: Stanford by 4, total of 56
Home field advantage is usually worth three points in the NFL, though it might be getting more respect than that here because of the travel situation...and because the field surface might be something a visitor has trouble dealing with at first this late in a season. The per-play stats we looked at don't really justify this. And turnovers could cancel out if jet lag isn't an issue. Interesting line...because Notre Dame is capable of winning this game and reaching 11-1 if they play sharp...but capable of getting bulldozed if they don't have their legs.
JIM HURLEY has been talking very closely with his California sources to get a read on this game. He knows it could be a double digit cover in either direction. If Stanford is focused and Notre Dame is weary...a blowout for the host! But, if the Cardinal are thinking about next week, while the Irish realize the time is NOW to have a peak performance...then ND can win even bigger on this field than Oregon did.
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Back to the NFL tomorrow...for the game fans have been waiting ALL SEASON for! Here's what's ahead in the NOTEBOOK...
Sunday: NFL TV Preview... New England at Denver
Monday: NFL TV Preview... Baltimore at Cleveland
Midweek: NFL TV Preview...Green Bay at Detroit
Friday-Saturday: College Football Conference Championship Preview
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving...but don't you dare think for a second that it's time to take a nap on the couch. THE WINNING IS JUST BEGINNING through THANKSGIVING WEEKEND with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!
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