25th ranked Notre Dame won't be playing for a spot in a BCS game when it battles 8th ranked Stanford Saturday in the regular season in Palo Alto but the Irish will have plenty on the line against the Cardinal, according to Irish head coach Brian Kelly.
"Both teams want to be the smartest toughest football teams in the country," Kelly said Tuesday. "It's a great rivalry."
"Stanford plays with a confidence and swagger that is apparent when you win as many football games as they have in the last couple of years."
Notre Dame defeated Stanford last year with a classic goal line stand to keep the Irish undefeated on the season with the victory midway through the season at Notre Dame Stadium.
"I think the whole game when you think about it really--we were fighting for every inch and the game was decided by inches," Kelly explains.
Kelly believes this year's game will be very similar. He also says its clear what it takes for the Irish to get a victory in any game it plays and what results in when the Irish don't achieve those goals.
Kelly says there are certain benchmarks his Irish team need to take down Stanford or any opponent.
1) One or less turnover
2) Irish need an effective run game
3) Defense must eliminate big plays and big play touchdowns.
4) Keep the points down
The Cardinal are a 14-point favorite and will play for the Pac-12 championship game on December 7th for a spot in the Rose Bowl on the line. Stanford remains one of the most consistent programs in college football and that starts with coach David Shaw.
"Smart football coach," Kelly said of Shaw. "Knows what he wants and he knows Stanford. He sticks with the plan. Any coach who has a plan and sticks with it, especially at a University like Stanford--has a great chance for success."
Notre Dame and Stanford will kickoff at 7pm Saturday night in Palo Alto.