Notre Dame and Stanford both enter Saturday in the top 10 (a first for this series), and either team has a legitimate opportunity to pick up a victory and advance their College Football Playoff hopes. For the Irish, who will likely be favorites of a touchdown or more for the remainder of its schedule, the quality win up for grabs on Saturday night is the key to making any kind of playoff run in 2018. Stanford will still have the conference championship race as a chance to play its way in, but there’s a not a single Pac-12 champ in the two-division era that has finished with an undefeated league record.
It has been quite some time since Notre Dame and Stanford squared off as a pair of undefeated programs. How long, in fact? The Fighting Irish and Cardinal have not squared off under such circumstances since their first-ever meeting in the 1925 Rose Bowl, an eventual 27-10 victory for Knute Rockne over Pop Warner. While the College Football Playoff is not on the line per se on Saturday, both teams have their eyes on the big show this postseason, and stakes are as high as they have ever been for this rivalry game.
And all of this on the line in a series that has been split 7-7 since 2004 with just an 18-point total difference between the two teams across that timespan.
Date: Saturday, Sept. 29 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Notre Dame Stadium — South Bend, Indiana
TV: NBC | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Stanford: Do the Cardinal have anything left in the tank? Going on the road to play Notre Dame in South Bend one week after an epic overtime win against Oregon in Eugene is a daunting task. It’s possible that we will see an effect of that physical and/or emotional drain at some point on Saturday night, but what if we don’t? Quarterback K.J. Costello’s composure throughout the comeback and play in the crucial moments was encouraging, particularly as you figure there’s not only this game against the Irish but other tough road environments at Arizona State and Washington later in the season. Bryce Love remains among the most talented players in the entire country, but the story of Stanford’s offense so far this season has been Costello’s emergence as one the Pac-12 best quarterbacks.
Notre Dame: While Brian Kelly maintains that there will be opportunities for both Ian Book and Brandon Wimbush to contribute, last week’s offensive explosion against Wake Forest seemed to usher in a permanent change at starting quarterback. Book’s five-touchdown performance appeared to bring an answer to one of the biggest questions and concerns regarding Notre Dame’s ceiling this year. Now with a hot hand at QB and a defense that has led the way for the much of the season, the Irish are ready for their biggest test of the season.
Game prediction, picks
While questioning Stanford’s ability to win back-to-back road games against ranked teams is fair, there is also something to be said from the confidence gained from emerging victorious in Eugene. That wasn’t their best football for much of the night and the Cardinal still pulled off a win. I’m predicting Stanford pulls off a second-straight road win, so I love getting more than a field goal on the line. Pick: Stanford +4.5
What college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 5? And what title contender will go down hard? Visit SportsLine now to see which teams are winning more than 50 percent of simulations, all from a proven computer model that has returned over $4,000 in profit over the past three seasons and enters Week 5 on an 8-2 run on its top-rated picks.