Saturday's Keys

With lowly Stanford (0-5) coming to Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, the 12th-ranked Irish (4-1) don't have to play well to win. If they play hard, overall talent will prevail.

This is a great opportunity for the Irish to shore some things up, gain some confidence in areas they've struggled and keep the ball rolling on offense. Minus the obvious, here are the keys to this game.

Get pressure on Trent Edwards: The Stanford offensive line has done a terrible job of protecting its quarterback thus far. Likewise, the ND defense could be doing a better job of getting to the quarterback. If the defensive line isn't able to wreak havoc in this game, hopes of the pass rush getting better can be laid to rest.

Run it up early and get the subs in quick: Charlie Weis should be able to empty his bench in this one, however if he can in the third quarter, some of the reserves can gain valuable experience. This could be the game Munir Prince gets double-digit carries. Lets see what John Ryan and Pat Kuntz can bring to the defensive line. Toryn Smith should see a lot of time. Evan Sharpley should be able to throw a couple passes. Most importantly, the young offensive linemen need a chance to play as many will be taking over the reigns next season.

Special teams play: It's been awhile since Weis has been happy with all facets of special teams play. The Irish are still waiting for the first Tom Zbikowski to get loose on a punt return. There hasn't been a big gain on kick return yet.

Game Prediction: Notre Dame 55, Stanford 13: The Irish could very well score 60 tomorrow.

Offensive MVP: The Cardinal are lousy against the run and Darius Walker is beginning to pick up steam. The junior tailback easily moves into sixth place on ND's all-time rushing list, gaining over 150 yards and scoring two touchdowns.

Defensive MVP: With Edwards dropping back to pass a lot, he is going to throw a couple picks in this one. Zbikowski's going to get his hands on at least one of them. Top Stories