Stanford Preview

Thankful for a golden opportunity to finally beat Stanford at The Farm. Inconsolable about zero remaining regular season games.

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What’s Their Deal?

I’ve been feeling pretty, pretty good for a while now about my preseason prediction that the Cardinal would be nothing special this year. With a loss to Cal last week, Stanford locked in David Shaw’s first losing season at the helm, and won’t be able to use a chance at bowl eligibility as (sad) motivation against the Irish. Pro prospect o-lineman Walker Little’s season ended in week one, and Shaw confirmed earlier this week that neither QB KJ Costello nor CB Paulson Adebo will play Saturday. Safety Malik Antoine is also out. Versatile wideout Connor Weddington is doubtful. Even their very good kicker (cool name-haver Jet Toner) is out! My sources can confirm that playing without all of your best players is not ideal.

In Costello’s stead will be junior Davis Mills (two last names?), who’s been solid despite getting thrust into a not so great scenario this year — the depleted line in front of him is more or less a sieve. Despite posting decent numbers overall,  he has thrown four picks in two weeks, and two of those took the air out of a 504 yard performance in a loss to Washington State. If the passing game has been adequate, the running game has been a far cry from what we’re used to seeing at Stanford (got your Lance Taylor, bish!). Freshman Austin Jones might be the back of the future, but they’ve barely cracked 100 yards per game, averaging just 3.6 YPC.

Things are also not great on the flip side, having allowed 31 PPG over their last five. The defense is ranked 81st in SP+ and is allowing 6.3 yards per play. There’s simply been too much attrition and injury bad luck for this group to really hold it together. I know we’re all crying crocodile tears about it.

One Scary Man: LB Casey Toohill

The fifth year captain linebacker has posted a moderately eye-popping statline this season — 10.5 tackles for loss means almost a fifth of his 54 tackles have come behind the line of scrimmage. Eight of those were sacks, putting him third in the Pac-12 in that category. The former three-star recruit is now a borderline NFL prospect and arguably Stanford’s best defender.

A Few Things I Hate About You

Band, mascot, color, local industry. So many things to hate.

What to Expect

It’s gonna rain. I know we like to freak out about Brian Kelly’s history in nasty weather, but whatever, it’ll probably be fine. The Irish have been rolling in the passing game and not so much on the ground, so the forecast is admittedly less than ideal, but it’s only supposed to be a quarter inch (with some strong gusts). The Irish are the clearly better team in probably every aspect of the game. Calm yourselves.

It would be cool to see Notre Dame’s running back by committee break loose like Dexter Williams did a year ago, but the offensive line has a major say in that, and has been inconsistent in run blocking as of late. The Stanford pass rush should make a bit of noise in the backfield, but not enough to materially limit the ND offense. And if the weather limits the Irish passing game, guess what, it will limit Stanford’s too, especially seeing as they’re playing with a papier-mâché offensive line and a backup at quarterback and like every other position and have generally been brutal all year.

Prediction

First win at Stanford since 2007. Second straight perfect November. Shaking off some rain demons. Let’s go. Irish 34-10.

Play ’em Out

Melina Duterte hails from a hop and skip northeast of Palo Alto and has proved to be a much better export than literally anything Silicon Valley’s tech bros have produced (sorry, Twitter). Her three records feature the coolest guitar tunes and jammiest outros that you can find today. I was on a flight from LA to Chicago with her and her band this past summer, so we’re pals, more or less.

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