Published October 11, 2012
No. 17 Stanford (4-1) at No. 7 Notre Dame (5-0), 3:30 p.m. (NBC)
Line: Notre Dame by 7.
Series record: Notre Dame leads 17-9.
WHAT'S AT STAKE
A victory by the Fighting Irish leaves them undefeated at the halfway point of the season and firmly in the middle of the national championship race, with only a couple more big hurdles (at Oklahoma and at USC) still to clear. Stanford is looking to extend its winning streak in the series to four. It had never even won three before the current run.
Stanford TE Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo vs. Notre Dame's patchwork secondary. Injuries have left the Irish low on experienced defensive backs. One corner is a freshman (KeiVarae Russell), and they have converted receivers at the other corner (Bennett Jackson) and one safety spot (Matthias Farley). Stanford hasn't gotten much from its wide receivers, but it's got a couple of tight ends who might be able to exploit Notre Dame's DBs. Cardinal QB Josh Nunes is going to need some help.WR Ty Montgomery, who has more catches than any other Stanford wideout, is unlikely to play because of an injury.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Stanford: LB Chase Thomas. The senior leads the team in tackles with 31, including six behind the line of scrimmage and 2.5 sacks. He also has an interception, and is a key cog in a rush defense that ranks sixth in the country.
Notre Dame: NG Louis Nix III: LB Manti Te'o and DT Stephon Tuitt get a lot of hype, and deservedly so. Nix, at 326 pounds, clogs the middle, and will be key against a Stanford team that likes to run between the tackles.
FACTS & FIGURES
Notre Dame is the only team in the country that has yet to trail in a game ...The Irish have gone three straight games without allowing a touchdown, the longest streak by Notre Dame since 1980. ... Stanford has scored 110 points against the Irish in its three-game winning streak. QB Andrew Luck started all of those games for the Cardinal. ... Nunes had his best game last week in a wild 54-48 OT win against Arizona. He threw for 360 yards and ran for three scores. But the Notre Dame defense is very different than Arizona's. ... Stanford has allowed five sacks through five games, the best rate in the Pac-12.