Sports

After wins against 4 struggling teams, No. 9 Notre Dame faces 1st real test against Stanford

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson (5) leaves the field after an NCAA college football game against Syracuse, Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. Notre Dame won 31-15. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson (5) leaves the field after an NCAA college football game against Syracuse, Saturday, Sept. 27, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. Notre Dame won 31-15. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)  (The Associated Press)

Ninth-ranked Notre Dame is preparing for its toughest challenge so far this season.

After beating four teams with a combined record of 7-11, the Irish (4-0) face 14th-ranked Stanford (3-1) on Saturday. The Cardinal has the nation's top-rated defense and has beaten the Irish four of their last five meetings.

So it's the first real test for a young Irish squad coming off a sloppy victory over Syracuse where they won despite five turnovers.

The Irish are ranked higher than the Cardinal but are one-point underdogs, just the second time since the start of 2011 season an opponent has been favored at Notre Dame Stadium.