After a lot of preseason hype, Notre Dame has really fallen off the national radar after an embarrassing loss to South Florida, a close loss to Michigan and failing to get it done against USC.
With all of the chaos in the BCS, the Irish are back in the rankings at No. 22 and it is just in time because they have to go on the road to face No. 6 Stanford this weekend.
What are the chances they can pull of the huge upset?
Better than most people think.
Stanford has not played a particularly tough schedule and has given up a whopping 122 points to the three best offenses it has faced. Notre Dame would replace Washington as the third best offense the Cardinal has faced.
They did have a triple overtime win against the one common opponent they have—the USC Trojans. However, the thing to remember with the Irish is that they can win any game in which they don’t turn the ball over.
In their three losses, they lost the turnover battle by an incredible 13-3. People tend to forget that this team also beat No. 14 Michigan State at home by 18 points. In that game, they only lost the turnover battle by one. In all of their other games this season, Notre Dame has gained more turnovers than it’s lost.
Really, this game comes down to whether or not the Irish can hold onto the football. They rank in the top third in the country in total and scoring offense and defense and they are one of the only teams in the country to do so.
Having said that, Stanford also meets those criteria.
The Cardinal ranks right in the middle of the country in forced turnovers, tied for 61st, so it will likely come down to what Notre Dame does. If it can make smart decisions and not fumble the ball away, particularly in the red zone, this game is a tossup.
If the Irish start turning the ball over, though, this game will undoubtedly go Stanford’s way.