Stanford at Notre Dame

Editor's note: Brian Edwards went 5-1 in Week 4 of the college football season and is back with more winners this weekend! He's now on a 6-1 run after cashing the UM-UNC 'over' last night and his guaranteed plays are on a 4-1 roll! Since last Friday, Brian's picks have produced 4.9 units of profit for $4,900 of cash for his 'dime-player clients.' Get signed right now for his next pay-if-it-wins-only selection!

Matchup: No. 7 Stanford at No. 8 Notre Dame
Venue: Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, Indiana
TV/Time: ABC, 7:30 p.m. ET

Stanford (4-0 straight up, 3-1 against the spread) is in a back-to-back road spot Saturday night as it travels across the country to face Notre Dame. As of Friday afternoon, most betting shops had the Fighting Irish installed as a 5.5-point home favorite with a total of 53. The Cardinal were available on the money line for a +190 return (risk $100 to win $190).

Stanford has compiled a 12-4-1 spread record in 17 games as an underdog during David Shaw’s eight-year tenure. However, we should note that the Cardinal is just 5-4-1 ATS in 10 games as a road underdog on Shaw’s watch.

Stanford trailed 24-7 at Oregon late in the third quarter when the Ducks appeared to extend the lead with another TD. However, the instant-replay booth reversed the TD call and marked the ball on the one yard line. Two plays later, Oregon fumbled and Stanford’s Joey Alfieri recovered and completely changed the game with an 80-yard scoop-and-score TD.

After a quick stop by the defense, Bryce Love scored on a 22-yard TD run to trim the deficit to 24-21. The Ducks responded with a TD to make it 31-21 with only 4:39 remaining. But the Cardinal wouldn’t go away, striking back quickly on a 15-yard TD pass from K.J. Costello to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside with 3:10 left.

On a second-and-three play deep in Stanford territory, Oregon was attempting to gain one more first down to ice the game. But RB C.J. Verdell tried to extend the ball out to the first-down marker and had it jolted loose before he was down. Stanford recovered the fumble and had life once again.

Costello would take advantage, hustling his offense into field-goal range. Jet Toner buried a 32-yard FG on the final play of regulation to force overtime. On the opening possession of the extra session, Costello hit Colby Parkinson with a 23-yard scoring strike to go ahead 38-31. Stanford’s Alameen Murphy put the game on ice when he intercepted Justin Herbert’s pass in the end zone.

Stanford captured a 38-31 win as a three-point road favorite, with the 69 combined points going ‘over’ the 59-point total. Costello threw for 327 yards and three TDs without an interception. RS sophomore TE Kaden Smith had six receptions for 95 yards, while Arcega-Whiteside had four catches for 84 yards and two TDs.

Love rushed for 89 yards and one TD on 19 carries at Autzen Stadium. For the season, Love has run for 254 yards and two TDs with a 4.3 yards-per-carry average. He has four catches for 27 yards through three games (he sat in Week 3 vs. UC Davis).

Costello, a RS sophomore, has completed 64.0 percent of his passes for 1,056 yards with a 10/3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Arcega-Whiteside has 17 receptions for 408 yards and seven TDs, while Smith has 18 catches for 258 yards. Trenton Irwin has caught 15 balls for 127 yards, while Parkinson has eight grabs for 103 yards and three TDs.

Like I said as a guest on Golic and Wingo on ESPN2 Friday morning, it’s baffling to watch the conservative play-calling by the Cardinal, particularly in the first half of games. It’s as if Shaw is in love with 2nd-and-12 situations, insisting on establishing the run early on even when opposing defenses stack the box with eight (and sometimes even nine!) players keying on Love.

It would make life a whole lot easier for Love if Stanford would come out at Notre Dame and use a lot of play-action calls early. Unless facing double coverage, Arcega-Whiteside and Smith are going to be open on nearly every play. And hell, it doesn’t even matter if Smith is well covered because – as he displayed with two incredible TD grabs in last year’s Pac-12 Championship Game – he’ll go up and get the ball in traffic.

There’s nothing wrong with using the aerial attack to set up the run. As evidenced by its slow offensive starts in every game this season, the opposite plan is ineffective and must be a source of frustration for all of Stanford’s skill players.

There’s zero excuse for the Cardinal to be ranked No. 101 in the nation in total offense and No. 120 in rushing yards with merely 104.2 yards per game on the ground. As for Stanford’s stop unit, it is ranked 12th in the country in scoring defense (13.5 points per game).

Before its electric rally at Oregon, Stanford won home games over San Diego State (31-10), USC (17-3) and UC Davis (30-10).

Notre Dame (4-0 SU, 2-2 ATS) won three one-possession games in South Bend to start the season, knocking off Michigan (24-17), Ball State (24-16) and Vanderbilt (22-17). The Fighting Irish were apparently tired of the anxiety brought on by nail-biter deep into the fourth quarter, because they went on the road last week and smashed Wake Forest 56-27 as six-point ‘chalk.’

After the ‘under’ cashed in its first three games, Brian Kelly’s squad saw the 83 combined points scored in Winston Salem soar ‘over’ the 60-point total. Making his first start of the season, sophomore QB Ian Book completed 25-of-34 passes for 325 yards and two TDs without an interception. He also made plays with his legs by rushing for 43 yards and three TDs on 10 attempts.

Redshirt freshman RB Jafar Armstrong carried the ball eight times for 98 rushing yards and two TDs. WR Alize Mack had six receptions for 61 yards, while Chase Claypool had four grabs for 51 yards and one TD.

Book unseated Brandon Wimbush, who had a ¼ TD-INT ratio in the Irish’s first three games. Miles Boykin has nine receptions for a team-best 167 receiving yards on the season. Claypool has 11 catches for 151 yards and one TD, and Chris Finke has caught 14 balls for 142 yards and one TD.

Sophomore RB Tony Jones has produced a team-best 263 rushing yards and three TDs while averaging 5.7 YPC. Armstrong ha 245 rushing yards, five TDs and a 5.2 YPC average.

During Kelly’s nine-year tenure, Notre Dame is 19-23-3 ATS as a home favorite.

When these teams met at The Farm in Palo Alto last season, Stanford captured a 38-20 win over the ninth-ranked Irish as a 2.5-point home underdog. The 58 combined points slithered ‘under’ the 58.5-point tally.

Trailing 20-17 going into the fourth quarter, Shaw’s team outscored Notre Dame 21-0 in the final stanza. First, Costello found Smith on a 19-yard scoring strike for the go-ahead score. Next, Costello hooked up with Dalton Schultz for a 12-yard TD pass, and then Cameron Scarlett put the game away with a three-yard dash to paydirt.

Notre Dame had a 415-328 edge in total offense, but Wimbush was intercepted twice while Stanford played turnover-free football. Costello threw for 176 yards and four TDs without an interception, while Love ran for 125 yards on 20 carries. Smith had three receptions for 65 yards and one TD.

Stanford has won three in a row in this series, including a 17-10 win in South Bend in 2016. The Cardinal has prevailed in seven of the past nine head-to-head meetings, going 5-4 ATS. The ‘under’ has cashed at a lucrative 7-1 clip in the past eight encounters in this rivalry.

The ‘under’ is 3-1 overall for Stanford this year, but the ‘over’ hit in its first road assignment last week.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Eastern on NBC.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

-- Since dropping a 47-27 decision to Ole Miss in Houston, Texas Tech has ripped off three consecutive wins both SU and ATS. That’s a good thing for Kliff Kingsbury, who has been on the hot seat for the last year and change. The Red Raiders made a huge statement last week in Stillwater, trouncing Oklahoma State 41-17 as 14.5-point road underdogs. True freshman Alan Bowman has established himself as the clear-cut starting QB, completing 72.1 percent of his passes for 1,557 yards with a 10/2 TD-INT ratio. Texas Tech is 6-5 ATS as a home underdog during Kingsbury’s tenure six-year tenure. As of Wednesday night, West Virginia was favored by 3.5 points for its trip to Lubbock on Saturday for a noon Eastern kick.

-- With a hat tip here to Brad Powers, we share this nugget: Indiana is in its biggest road favorite role since 1990 as the Hoosiers go to Rutgers this week as 16.5-point favorites.

-- Buffalo star WR Anthony Johnson is ‘questionable’ for Saturday’s home game vs. Army. Johnson, who is dealing with a leg injury, has 18 receptions for 308 yards and three TDs for the unbeaten Bulls.

-- Less than three weeks after shoulder surgery, it appears as if Duke star QB Daniel Jones might be available for Saturday’s home game vs. Va. Tech. David Cutcliffe told the Charlotte Observer on Thursday, “I can’t tell you what I know except that he has practice and done well.” Jones had started 27 games in a row since the day he arrived on campus. The true junior had four TD passes without an interception and one rushing score in the Blue Devils’ first two games. The Hokies will be without star QB Josh Jackson, who broke his leg in last week’s stunning loss at Old Dominion.

-- The 4-0 ATS Perfection Club consists of Utah State, Virginia, Washington State, FIU and Texas A&M. West Virginia, Appalachian State and Georgia Southern are 3-0 ATS, while Syracuse is 3-0-1 versus the number.

-- There are six teams with 0-4 ATS records: Oregon, FAU, Wake Forest, USC, Ga. Tech and Louisville. Nebraska is 0-3 ATS while UTSA, UConn and Arkansas are 0-3-1 ATS.

-- Hawaii, a 10-point road ‘chalk’ at San Jose State, has failed to cover the spread in five consecutive games as a road favorite. With that said, we’ll point out that QB Cole McDonald continues to shred defenses for the 4-1 Warriors. McDonald has a 20/1 TD-INT ratio in his first five career starts.

-- No. Illinois, a three-point underdog at Eastern Michigan, has won 10 games in a row over the Eagles, including back-to-back victories in overtime. Eastern Michigan returns home after three straight road assignments.

Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.