Notre Dame looks for fourth straight win against Stanford

Stanford (1-4) at Notre Dame (3-2), Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBC)

Line: Notre Dame by 16 ½, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Notre Dame 22-13

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Saturday will mark the first matchup between Notre Dame and Stanford when both programs are unranked since 2016. But that could soon change for the Fighting Irish, winners of three straight after starting 0-2 in coach Marcus Freeman’s first full season. Notre Dame looks to continue its upward momentum as the Irish head toward a difficult second half of the season. Stanford has dropped 11 straight games against FBS competition, a streak that dates to a 31-24 overtime victory over No. 3 Oregon on Oct. 2, 2021.

KEY MATCHUP

Notre Dame has one of the best pass rushes in college football. The Irish average 3.0 sacks per game, the 18th-best mark in the nation. The Stanford offensive line has struggled to protect starting quarterback Tanner McKee this season. In five games, the Cardinal has allowed 4.0 sacks per game, which ranks 128th of 131 FBS teams in sacks allowed per game. Yet the Cardinal limited Oregon State to just one sack in a competitive 28-27 loss last weekend. Stanford will have a shot at an upset victory if they can protect McKee from AP preseason All-American edge rusher Isaiah Foskey and the rest of the Notre Dame defensive front.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Stanford: RB Casey Filkins will carry a heavy offensive load going forward due to the loss of injured RB E.J. Smith. Filkins leads the team in rushing and yards from scrimmage with 496 total yards and four touchdowns this season.

Notre Dame: TE Michael Mayer is the favorite target of Irish QB Drew Pyne. In five games, Mayer’s been targeted a team-high 49 times and has 33 receptions for 351 yards and five scores.

FACTS & FIGURES

Notre Dame has won three straight over Stanford, with the last Cardinal victory coming in 2017. … Stanford leads the FBS in fewest penalties with 14, while Notre Dame ranks No. 7 with 23. … Pyne has completed 72.5% of his passes since taking over the starting job three games into the season, which ranks seventh in the country.

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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