No. 21 Stanford will try to focus exclusively on No. 8 Notre Dame when the teams play at Stanford on Saturday. However, undivided attention might be impossible, because a game more important to the Cardinal's Pac-12 championship hopes will be taking place 800-plus miles away.
Yes, Stanford (8-3, 7-2 Pac-12) will be facing Notre Dame (9-2) in a network-televised game between two ranked foes with Cardinal running back Bryce Love perhaps making his final statement for the Heisman Trophy -- if he plays.
All that typically is enough to create tunnel vision, especially since it is the final regular-season game for both teams, with Stanford trying to finish the season unbeaten at home.
If Washington wins, Stanford will advance to the Dec. 1 Pac-12 championship to face Pac-12 South champion USC in nearby Santa Clara, Calif. If Washington State beats the Huskies, the Cougars will represent to the Pac-12 North in the title game.
Stanford's game and the Washington-Washington State game both start at 5 p.m. local time.
"I'm sure we'll be scoreboard watching to a certain degree," Stanford coach David Shaw said after Saturday's 17-14 victory over California. "We can't worry about what happens on somebody else's field. Either we go to the Pac-12 championship game or we don't."
The game at Stanford means more to the Irish. Although a spot in the College Football Playoff seems out of reach for Notre Dame, a victory Saturday would almost guarantee the Irish a berth in a New Year's Six Bowl.
Notre Dame is coming off its two worst performances of the season -- a 41-8 loss to Miami that took the Irish out of the CFP picture and a 24-17 home victory over Navy, which held a seven-point lead midway through the third quarter.
In both games, quarterback Brandon Wimbush started slowly. He was 2 of 10 with two interceptions in the early going against Miami, and he completed just one of his first five passes against Navy. He became more accurate as the game wore on.
"The ball is coming out of his hand better," Irish coach Brian Kelly said, "but he's got to start that way where he's tuned in immediately. So he's going through some mechanical adjustments that are getting better and better, and they showed themselves later in the game. But we've got to see those things happen right away."
Wimbush will get running-game support from Josh Adams, who ranks 14th nationally in rushing yards per game at 121.5. But Wimbush might be without receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, who is questionable for the game as he goes through concussion protocol.
He will probably suit up against Notre Dame, but how much he plays and how effective he will be if he plays remain to be seen.
Love still leads the nation in rushing yards per game at 172.3 while averaging 8.8 yards per carry.
"He's extremely explosive," Kelly said. "Big-time player in the sense that he'll turn a 3-yard run into a 60-yard run; just explosiveness at that position, like probably no one else in the country."
Love rushed for 101 yards against Cal and had his 11th run of 50 yards or more this season, the most in FBS history.
"He was in a lot of pain, but once he gets up to 80 or 90 percent, whatever it was, nobody is going to catch him," Shaw said. "So much pride, so much determination."
If Love can't play or Stanford's running game is neutralized, more pressure falls on redshirt freshman quarterback K.J. Costello, who is expected to make his fourth straight start.
Kelly was pleased with his team's run defense against Navy, even though the Midshipmen had the ball for 42:42 compared with just 17:18 for the Irish.
Navy entered the game ranked No. 1 nationally in rushing (369.8 yards per game) and ninth in yards per carry (5.9), but Notre Dame limited the Midshipmen to 277 rushing yards and 3.8 yards per carry.
"We've got to settle in better," Kelly said. "We finished very well, but getting off to a better start when you know you're limited with possessions. I think those are good takeaways for us moving into Stanford."
VDB Free Betting Prediction: Stanford 20, Notre Dame 19
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Stanford Cardinal VDB Sport Betting Odds and Matchup Report
Notre Dame Fighting Irish vs Stanford Cardinal VDB Betting Odds
|Notre Dame Fighting Irish||-3 (-105)||-125||57 (-105)o|
|Stanford Cardinal||+3 (-115)||+105||57 (-115)u|
|Name||Record||Home||Away||ATS||ATS Home||ATS Away||Offense||Defense||Diff|
|Name||Record||Home||Away||ATS||ATS Home||ATS Away||Offense||Defense||Diff|
Betting Odds Trends
|Notre Dame is 6-3 ATS in its last 9 games|
|Notre Dame is 8-1 SU in its last 9 games|
|The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Notre Dame's last 6 games|
|Notre Dame is 2-6 SU in its last 8 games when playing Stanford|
|The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Notre Dame's last 7 games when playing Stanford|
|Notre Dame is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Stanford|
|Notre Dame is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Stanford|
|Stanford is 2-4-1 ATS in its last 7 games|
|Stanford is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games|
|The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Stanford's last 7 games|
|Stanford is 3-6 ATS in its last 9 games at home|
|Stanford is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home|
|Stanford is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games when playing Notre Dame|
|The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Stanford's last 7 games when playing Notre Dame|
|Stanford is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games when playing at home against Notre Dame|
|Stanford is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Notre Dame|
|Dexter Williams||RB||Prob Sat - Quadricep - 11/21/17||Williams is expected to suit up Saturday against Stanford despite an injured quadriceps.|
|Equanimeous St. Brown||WR||Ques Sat - Head - 11/20/17||St. Brown left the last game with a head injury and his status for Saturday's contest against Stanford is unknown.|
|J.D. Carney||QB||Ques Sat - Concussion - 11/20/17||Carney missed the last three games with a concussion and his availability for Saturday's matchup against Stanford is unknown.|
|Cameron Smith||WR||Ques Sat - Hamstring - 11/20/17||Smith missed the last four games with a hamstring injury and his availability for Saturday's tilt against Stanford is up in the air.|
|Freddy Canteen||WR||out for season - Shoulder - 10/29/17||Canteen had surgery to fix a shoulder injury and is expected to miss the remainder of the season.|
|Elijah Taylor||DL||out for season - Foot - 10/18/17||Taylor has a Lisfranc fracture in his foot and is expected to miss the rest of the season.|
|Alohi Gilman||S||out for season - Eligibility - 8/30/17||Gilman is expected to miss the entire 2017 season due to eligibility reasons.|
|Bryce Love||RB||Prob Sat - Ankle - 11/19/17||Love exited the previous game due toa n ankle injury but is expected to suit up Saturday against Notre Dame.|
|Connor Wedington||RB||Ques Sat - Shoulder - 11/21/17||Wedington missed the last game due to a right shoulder injury and his status for Saturday's contest against Notre Dame is unclear.|
|Dalton Schultz||TE||Ques Sat - Undisclosed - 11/20/17||Schultz missed the last game for unknown reasons and his status is unclear against Notre Dame on Saturday.|
|Terrence Alexander||CB||Ques Sat - Forearm - 11/20/17||Alexander has been sidelined with a forearm injury and it is unclear if he will return Saturday against Notre Dame.|
|Walker Little||T||Doub Sat - Undisclosed - 11/21/17||Little missed the last two games with an unspecified issue and is unlikely to play Saturday against Notre Dame.|
|Alijah Holder||CB||out for season - Knee - 11/1/17||Holder has a knee injury and is unlikely to play again this season.|
|Sean Barton||LB||out for season - Knee - 9/28/17||Barton is expected to miss the rest of the season due to a right knee injury.|
|10/15/16||STAN 17||ND 10||-3/53||L/U||-11||23||-34|
|11/28/15||ND 36||STAN 38||-4/57||L/O||-111||-146||35|
|10/4/14||STAN 14||ND 17||2.5/46||W/U||-165||-82||-83|
|11/30/13||ND 20||STAN 27||-16.5/49.5||L/U||156||197||-41|
|10/13/12||STAN 13||ND 20||-7.5/42||L/U||-62||-3||-59|
|11/26/11||ND 14||STAN 28||-7/59.5||W/U||120||139||-19|
|9/25/10||STAN 37||ND 14||4/58.5||L/U||53||122||-69|
|11/28/09||ND 38||STAN 45||-10/63.5||L/O||49||173||-124|
|10/4/08||STAN 21||ND 28||-5.5/47.5||W/O||-87||78||-165|
|11/24/07||ND 21||STAN 14||-5/46||L/U||14||58||-44|
Notre Dame Last 10
|11/11/17||@ MIA||L 8-41||-3.5/59.5||L/U||-113||-128||15|
|10/7/17||@ UNC||W 33-10||-12/63.5||W/U||222||255||-33|
|9/23/17||@ MSU||W 38-18||-3/53.5||W/O||-141||31||-172|
|9/16/17||@ BC||W 49-20||-14/52||W/O||211||330||-119|
Stanford Last 10
|11/4/17||@ WSU||L 21-24||-1.5/55.5||L/U||-232||0||-232|
|10/26/17||@ ORST||W 15-14||-18/56||L/U||-42||-57||15|
|10/7/17||@ UTAH||W 23-20||-3/52||P/U||2||52||-50|
|9/16/17||@ SDSU||L 17-20||-8.5/47.5||L/U||-105||2||-107|
|9/9/17||@ USC||L 24-42||3.5/54.5||L/O||-281||-137||-144|