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Will Stanford Spoil Notre Dame’s Championship Dreams? 1

Posted on November 26, 2015 by Jim Hurley
Christian McCaffrey and the Stanford Cardinal will look to run Notre Dame out of the college football playoff mix.

Christian McCaffrey and the Stanford Cardinal will look to run Notre Dame out of the college football playoff mix.

The Stanford Cardinal just keeps churning along. They enter a sequence of two big games—Notre Dame on Saturday night and the Pac-12 Championship Game against the UCLA-USC winner the following week—with a chance to reach at least the Rose Bowl, and maybe the College Football Playoff with a little help. And for my purposes as a handicapper, they’ve been an excellent bet all season long.

Stanford is 8-3 against the spread (ATS), covering in five of six home games and going 3-2 on the road. They do it primarily with the power running game that has become a staple of this program under the current leadership of head coach David Shaw and his predecessor Jim Harbaugh.

This year’s stud running back is Christian McCaffrey, a Heisman contender who has rushed for over 1,500 yards and is averaging nearly six yards a pop. McCaffrey has also caught 34 passes for 416 yards, making him the Cardinal’s second-leading receiver.

You don’t run the football like that without talent on the offensive line, and NFL people love the left side of the Stanford line, with tackle Kyle Murphy and guard Joshua Garnett. Both of them will be on your TV screen on Sundays next season.

The combination of McCaffrey and the great offensive front has made Stanford that rare team that can not only run the football, but still be explosive offensively while doing it. It’s enabled the Cardinal to cover big pointspreads in conference games—they won at Oregon State 42-24, at home against Washington 31-14, and at Colorado 42-10 each time covering a two-touchdown line. Stanford dropped 50-plus points in easy covers over Arizona and UCLA, and they delivered another double-digit cover last week, beating Cal 35-22 as a (-10) favorite.

Those type of offensive explosions are coming almost exclusively through the running game, which ranks 15th in the country. Quarterback Kevin Hogan is in his fourth year as a starter and he’s smart and competent, but his limitations along with that of the receivers’ corps have resulted in a passing game that ranks 79th.

On the flip side, Stanford is not an outstanding team defensively. They aren’t bad by any stretch, but good offenses have been able to put up points—notably Oregon, which came to The Farm on November 14 and won 38-36. Stanford also gave up 35 points to UCLA. The Cardinal defense isn’t dotted with players that attract NFL attention. Read the rest of this entry →

College Football Classic Rewind: BC Shocks #1 Notre Dame With Last-Second FG 23

Posted on November 15, 2011 by A.J. Foss

Many college football experts and fans have been asking for years: What’s wrong with the Notre Dame football program?

It may be a lack of continuity in head coaches or the inability to recruit the best high school players or the fact that the talent is now spread all over the country that has led to the downfall of Notre Dame.

But for those who are superstitious or believe in luck, they will point to the Irish’s last-second loss to Boston College in the final game of the 1993 regular season that not only shattered the dreams of the Irish’ s chances of a national title that season, but has brought several years of mediocrity for the Irish.

Notre Dame entered the game with Boston College as the #1 team in the country following their 31-24 victory over Florida State in a game billed as the “Game of the Century” and had won their previous 17 games.

With one more victory, the Irish would finish the regular season with an 11-0 record and probably would go on to play in the Fiesta Bowl in a rematch against Florida State with a chance for a second national title under head coach Lou Holtz.

The one remaining obstacle between the Irish and a trip to Tempe was the #17 ranked Boston College Eagles, who were coached by future head coach Tom Coughlin in his third season as the BC head coach.

The Eagles had rebounded from a 0-2 start which included a 22-21 loss to lowly Northwestern when kicker David Gordon missed a potential game-winning 40-yard field goal with over a minute left, to win their next seven games, thanks to a high-powered offense led by quarterback Glenn Foley and running back Darnell Campbell, who was the nation’s leading scorer with 20 touchdowns.

Despite their offensive firepower and hot winning streak, the Eagles were not given much of a chance against the Irish as they were 18-point underdogs as they traveled to South Bend. Read the rest of this entry →

College Football Week 10 Review: Falling Off The Edge 4

Posted on November 08, 2009 by Dean Hybl
Iowa's chances at a national title ended with the injury to quarterback Ricky Stanzi.

Iowa's chances at a national title ended with the injury to quarterback Ricky Stanzi.

It was another interesting week of college football as one national title contender saw its dreams end while a couple others had close calls.

It still seems like the BCS Championship Game seems destined to be Texas against either Florida or Alabama, but all three teams have some work to do before that will be ensured. If they do falter, then others are lining up behind them ready to move into the mix.

Falling Off The Edge

After flirting with defeat seemingly every week, the Iowa Hawkeyes finally were unable to pull out a last minute miracle in dropping their first game of the season. The 17-10 setback to the Northwestern Wildcats not only ended their chances at a national title, but also came with a major cost as starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi missed much of the game after suffering an ankle injury.

I know that everyone in Iowa had hoped they might be catching lightning in a bottle and could keep pulling off miracle wins, but I think everyone else in the country knew it was only a matter of time before the bubble burst for the Hawkeyes.

After all, this is the team that needed to block two field goals in the final seconds of their season opener just to avoid a loss to Division I-AA Northern Iowa. Then, they had to hold on for a 24-21 win over Arkansas State. In recent weeks a last play touchdown against Michigan State and fourth quarter explosion against Indiana kept them undefeated, but also emphasized their vulnerability.

Read the rest of this entry →

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