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Stanford and Notre Dame a hot topic

Published: Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 9:43 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — Nowadays, the average college football fan would no doubt rather watch West Virginia than Notre Dame. Points are the currency of the game, shootouts are the norm rather than the exception, and the 14-10 game is perceived as ugly — unless there are eight minutes left in the first quarter.

But, as in baseball, it’s appealing to see a 1-0 game now and then, and Saturday’s schedule could serve up a couple involving Pac-12 teams playing outside the league.

Stanford, No. 17, travels to seventh-ranked Notre Dame (12:30 p.m.), and the tailgate fare of choice will be knuckle sandwiches. The Irish haven’t allowed a touchdown in their past three games, haven’t allowed a rushing touchdown dating to late last year, and have surrendered just 39 points in five games.

Matter of fact, Notre Dame (5-0) hasn’t trailed all season.

And while Stanford (4-1) found itself in a wacky shootout last week against Arizona, that isn’t usually the Cardinal’s M.O. ‘Zona’s is a spread-option offense, the kind that gives Stanford fits, and this will be more of the back-alley brawl that suits the Cardinal better.

“If there’s one team that’s beaten us physically, it’s Stanford,” says Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, talking about three straight victories in the series by the Cardinal. “Turn on the film, and they’ve physically intimidated their opponents.”

Meanwhile, Stanford coach David Shaw says, “They have some similarities to us.”

In other words, there’s going to be a lot of “under” taken in Las Vegas sportsbooks on this one.

Intriguing Stanford stat: The Cardinal is the only team in history to beat USC and Notre Dame in the same three straight seasons.

To the west, No. 10 Oregon State visits BYU in what could be another grinder, both teams switching out injured quarterbacks.

Best of the rest of Saturday, chronologically:

Kansas State (6) at Iowa State, 9 a.m. — Don’t sleep on the Cyclones (4-1), who have jumped up to No. 25 in the coaches poll. K-State is prospering partly because of a plus-10 turnover margin.

Texas (15) vs. Oklahoma (13) at Dallas, 9 a.m. — The annual Red River Rivalry doesn’t have quite the shine in 2012, with both teams having a loss. In the offense-obsessed Big 12, Texas has surrendered 31 points or more in three straight games. The Longhorns are converting 58 percent of third downs, while in the Bob Stoops era, Oklahoma allows only 30.8 percent.

West Virginia (5) at Texas Tech, 12:30 p.m. — The Mountaineers (5-0) are all the rage, and now coach Dana Holgorsen goes back to some of his pass-happy roots. It’s not only Geno Smith putting up crazy numbers; receiver Tavon Austin has at least 10 catches in all five games, and Stedman Bailey has a ridiculous 13 touchdown catches.

Oregon State (10) at BYU, 12:30 p.m. — Last time OSU played in Provo (1986), Bronco Mendenhall was a safety for the Beavers. Now he’s the BYU coach. OSU is seeking its first 5-0 start since 1939 with Cody Vaz at quarterback, but he’s looking at a BYU (4-2) defense No. 1 at defending the run at 59.5 yards per game, while OSU is sixth at 67.3.

USC (11) at Washington, 4 p.m., — True or not, there’s a perception that UW coach Steve Sarkisian’s head is inside the USC playbook. It will need to be to shackle Trojans receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods, the best tandem in college football since, since ... when?

South Carolina (3) at LSU (9), 5 p.m., — In terms of rankings and BCS implication, this is the game of the day. For the Gamecocks, it’s No. 2 in a siege that began with Georgia, runs through LSU and then Florida. LSU has won 21 straight at home, and its defense is third-ranked at a mere 221 yards a game. “You have to play with your stinger, if you will,” says Tigers coach Les Miles, adding, and almost biting off the words, “I think our team has not lost its confidence.”

Texas A&M (22) vs. Louisiana Tech (23) at Shreveport, La., 6 p.m. — When this game was postponed by Hurricane Isaac on Aug. 30, it was no big deal. Now it’s a matchup of ranked outfits. A&M (4-1), with hotshot freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, has won all 10 games in the series. La Tech (5-0) spread-passing exponent Sonny Dykes has quarterback Colby Cameron, who has thrown for 13 touchdowns with no interceptions.

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