Date/Time: November 30th, 7:00 PM ET
Spread: Stanford -14
Here at Bang the Book, we are always keeping our eyes open for the best games to bet on each and every week. Of all of the games on the Week 14 docket, the one we are zeroing in on is the game where the Stanford Cardinal host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at 12:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, November 30th.
We’re down to the last week of the regular season, and there is a heck of a lot that is obviously on the line. There are a lot of traditional rivalry games that we could be making a play at with our college football pick of the week, and there are surely a heck of a lot of underdogs that we think have a great chance of cashing in. That said, we are going to be playing the duel between the Golden Domers and the Cardinal, and we think there might be another shot at an upset in the cards that could spoil the whole chase in the Pac-12.
Does anyone outside of the Arizona State Sun Devils really want to win the Pac-12 this year? First Stanford coughed it up by losing to the Utah Utes. Then the Oregon Ducks coughed it up by losing to this Stanford outfit. Then Stanford lost to the USC Trojans. And now Oregon has lost again to the Arizona Wildcats. Things have gotten so bad that a league which once had two legitimate contenders to win the BCS National Championship very well could only have one team which qualifies for a BCS bowl game this year, especially if Stanford loses this game and takes a lot of respect away from the Ducks and the conference as a whole. We have to think that the U of O is going to be in the BCS, likely in the Fiesta Bowl as long as it finishes off the Oregon State Beavers, but it is still a scary proposition for this conference as a whole.
Stanford has been a great home team this year. The team was given very little shot of beating what seemed like a superior Oregon squad, but it got the job done and was rather dominating in the game. The Cardinal are 6-0 SU and 4-2 ATS thus far this season in Palo Alto, including last week when they smoked the hapless Cal Golden Bears 63-13 in the best offensive showing of the season.
That said, there is a big question regarding the caliber of the teams which are in the Pac-12. Is this conference that deep, or did it turn out to be that shoddy this year? That’s always the question when you don’t have a behemoth running the whole show, and now that both Oregon and Stanford have a pair of losses, matching the 9-2 record of an Arizona State team which was always considered nice and never considered a national power, we are certainly in that situation.
Here’s what we do know about Stanford: This team can play some defense. Sure, allowing 18.9 points per game doesn’t seem to fit under the domination variety, but there is no shame in it whatsoever. The Cardinal are allowing teams to manage just 90.0 yards per game on the ground, and that’s saying something in the Pac-12. The offense can run the ball with RB Tyler Gaffney, and QB Kevin Hogan, though is no QB Andrew Luck, hasn’t done a lot to cost the Cardinal games this season.
The issue though, is that this seems just like the type of game which Notre Dame is going to find a way to win. The Fighting Irish have had their chances this year to get into a BCS bowl game once again, and maybe pulling off an upset on a Top 10 team on the road would be enough to get them into consideration if the human voters can get them up high enough; 9-3 isn’t out of the question when you’re talking about teams like a prospective 10-2 Oregon side or a prospective 10-2 Wisconsin team getting into the BCS.
The Fighting Irish don’t have much of a ground game, but it is clear that wasn’t going to work all that well against Stanford anyway. WR TJ Jones is one of the toughest receivers to try to stop in the country, and QB Tommy Rees, though not putting up the best numbers in the world, does have 25 TDs and is averaging 8.2 yards per pass attempt.
Remember too, that this Notre Dame defense has only allowed 373.2 yards and 22.5 points per game this season. That scoring number has gotten a little higher over the course of the last several weeks, but in the end, we don’t view this as the end of the world by any stretch of the imagination. Remember that we are starting with two TDs on our side, and if we can get the Irish to around 20, there is no reason why they shouldn’t cover this game with a defense like this.
The question that we have about the Golden Domers is their lack of a schedule. They only just barely beat the Navy Midshipmen, and they laid an egg on the road against the Pitt Panthers just a few weeks ago. That being said, they do already have wins against teams like the Michigan State Spartans, the aforementioned Sun Devils, the aforementioned Trojans, and the BYU Cougars, and those are as good of four wins as we have seen out of any team in the country this year.
The history of this series also dictates that 14 is a heck of a lot of points. Last season’s game went to overtime between these two, a game which was ultimately won by Notre Dame 20-13, but covered by Stanford at +7.5. If fact, there has only been one game in this series since 2006 in which the final margin of victory was greater than 14 points, that coming in 2010 when the Cardinal rolled in South Bend 37-14.
We think there is a decent chance that Notre Dame is going to win this game SU. The Cardinal and the rest of the Pac-12 just haven’t impressed us all that much, and this one just gets the feeling of a game that the Fighting Irish can hang around in. We would be surprised to see Stanford put up 30, and if that turns out to be the case, as we suggested before, getting Notre Dame to 20, something it has done against a lot of the best teams that it has played this season, should be enough to snare the cover.
Week 14 College Football Pick of the Week: Notre Dame Fighting Irish +14
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.