News and Notes

Can Stanford score enough points to keep up with the Notre Dame offense?

The Cardinal have broken the 30-point barrier only twice this season. The Irish have done it in every single game except for Michigan. It doesn't help that starter Trent Edwards got dinged up in last week's 27-3 loss to California. Head coach Walt Harris announced on Wednesday that Edwards would start but the stinger and left shoulder injury could limit his effectiveness. A way to keep the Notre Dame offense off the field is by controlling the clock and dominating the time of possession. One problem: Stanford is 107th in the nation in rushing offense and ran for only 16 yards against the Golden Bears. Also, Stanford's second leading receiver, Justin McCullum, is nursing a shoulder injury but is slated to play. A team that does not put up alot of points on the board and has a middle of the pack defense has a slim chance against the Irish.

Can the greats of Stanford's past inspire this Cardinal team?

This is the last game for Stanford Stadium before it gets an extreme makeover to a more modern venue. To honor the occasion, the Cardinal are saluting nine decades of Stanford football. Jim Plunkett and Bill Walsh are two of the many great Cardinal players and coaches who will be in attendance for the festivities. Can the gathering of greats give this year's Stanford team an extra boost? The Cardinal probably will come out a little more fired up than usual and be evident early on in the game. But Notre Dame has plenty to play for and a lot riding on the outcome of this contest. Head coach Charlie Weis said his team is aware of the consequences. Both teams should have no problem getting up for this game.

Prediction:

Notre Dame has overcome an early-season hiccup against Michigan State to put itself in position for a possible BCS bowl berth. The season has been more than some Irish fans could have expected. Weis has changed the attitude and direction of the Notre Dame program. To lay an egg on Saturday night against an inferior Stanford team would halt some of this momentum. But don't count on this happening. The Cardinal are giving up 271 yards per game through the air and expect Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn to exploit the Stanford secondary. Maurice Stovall, who has nine touchdowns receptions in the past four games, is hot and seems to be making a highlight-scoring grab every week. Darius Walker has run for over 100 yards the past two weeks and will be going up against a Stanford unit that gave up 256 rushing yards last week to California. Stanford needs a few big plays to counter the Irish attack. Edwards has 15 touchdowns on the year to seven interceptions but his health status could make him a sitting duck. Backup T.C. Ostrander could see some action if Edwards can't get the job done. The big play could come from special teams. T.J. Rushing was a first-team All-Pac-10 selection as a kickoff return specialist last year and took his first return of the season 93 yards for a touchdown. Jon Alston has a blocked punt and return for a score as well. It won't be enough to keep up with the Irish. Notre Dame has far too many weapons on offense for Stanford's defense. The Irish secure a BCS spot behind another monster day from Quinn. Start making those travel plans to Tempe, Arizona: Notre Dame 42 Stanford 21.


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