Notre Dame can strengthen its case for a spot in the College Football Playoff with a win Saturday at Stanford, which needs a victory to keep alive its slim playoff hopes. The injury-depleted Fighting Irish are sixth in the CFP rankings following six straight wins, while No. 9 Stanford clinched the Pac-12 North title with last week’s 35-22 win over California.
The Fighting Irish overcame five turnovers to beat Boston College 19-16 last week and will need a much-improved effort against Stanford, which must defeat Notre Dame and win its conference title game on Dec. 5 to have a shot at the playoff. Notre Dame will be without cornerback KeiVarae Russell (broken leg) and running back C.J. Prosise (ankle) after both starters were injured last week. Russell, who is second on the team in tackles, will be missed against an offense that averages 36.8 points and boasts a Heisman Trophy candidate in running back Christian McCaffrey. “If anybody has seen a running back, a football player better than Christian McCaffrey this year, tell me. Show him to me,” Cardinal coach David Shaw told reporters. “I haven’t seen anybody in America like this kid. He’s truly, truly special.”
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX.
LINE HISTORY: Books opened Stanford a 3.5-point home fave. The total opened at 55.5 and is up to 56.
Notre Dame – LB James Onwaualu (Questionable, knee), WR Chris Brown (Questionable, shoulder), RB C.J. Prosise (Doubtful, ankle), OL Alex Bars (Out for season, ankle), S Drue Trangquill (Out for season, knee), TE Durham Smythe (Out for season, knee), QB Malik Zaire (Out for season, ankle), RB Tarean Folston (Out for season, knee), DB Shaun Crawford (Out for season, knee), DL Ishaq Williams (Out for season, suspension), DL Jarron Jones (Out for season, knee).
Stanford – CB Ronnie Harris (Questionable, ankle), FB Daniel Marx (Out for season, leg), DE Harrison Phillips (Out for season, knee).
WEATHER: Temperatures in the high-40s under clear skies. Wind expected to blow across the field at around 5 mph.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “The Irish are a one-loss team with a very weak schedule, and even if they win out and beat Stanford, I think it’s going to be difficult to make a case for Notre Dame over a BIG12 Champion. The Cardinal are coming off a tough home loss to Oregon on Saturday, but they remain on track to go to the PAC12 Championship Game versus Utah. They still have a slim hope if they can win out, and get a little help.” Covers Expert Jesse Schule.
ABOUT NOTRE DAME (10-1 SU, 7-4 ATS, 5-6 O/U): The Fighting Irish remained among the top 35 nationally in scoring and total offense despite a shaky outing against Boston College, when quarterback DeShone Kizer threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns along with three interceptions. Stanford ranks second in the Pac-12 in scoring defense and presents a stronger test for Notre Dame, which has freshman Josh Adams (589 rushing yards) ready to start in place of Prosise. Starting linebacker James Onwualu will miss his second straight contest due to a knee injury, but defensive tackle Daniel Cage should return after missing two games with a concussion.
ABOUT STANFORD (9-2 SU, 8-3 ATS, 5-6 O/U): McCaffrey bolstered his Heisman campaign with a Cardinal-record 389 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns against Cal as Stanford scored at least 30 points for the 10th straight game. Linebacker Blake Martinez is tied for 15th in the nation with 9.9 tackles per game, but the defense likely will be without starting cornerback Ronnie Harris (ankle) for the second straight contest. Stanford, which will be without starting fullback Daniel Marx for the rest of the season due to a leg injury suffered against Cal, leads the nation in time of possession at 35:18 and will face either UCLA or USC in the conference title game.
* Under is 5-0 in the last five meetings.
* Fighting Irish are 6-2 ATS in their last eight meetings in Stanford.
* Underdog is 7-3 ATS in their last 10 meetings.
* Fighting Irish are 1-7 ATS in their last eight games in November.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Fifty-five percent of Covers users are backing the Cardinal.