The Legends Trophy is back up for grabs this weekend when Notre Dame travels to meet the Stanford Cardinal in Palo Alto. Last season, the Irish were able to pull off a victory thanks to some last minute heroics from Manti Te'o and company, who held strong on four plays at the goal line. They will need a similar stoutness up front if they are to stop Tyler Gaffney, who has been held under 100 yards just four times this season.
For Stanford, the X-Factor is going to be Kevin Hogan, whose play usually determines how successful the Cardinal are going to be on any given week. Their defense is always ready to play and their run game is rarely impeded, but even with those things working at full strength, they can still fall if Hogan plays badly — the USC game should serve as proof enough of that.
Rankings and records: Notre Dame pulled into the 25th spot of the BCS rankings after their win over BYU this weekend, while Stanford continues to be a top-10 squad holding down eighth. The Irish lead 18-9 all-time after last year's win. They'll look to extend their success on Saturday.
Weather: Partly cloudy, with no chance of rain.
Three names to know
Louis Nix III (Notre Dame defensive tackle) — Though the Irish got by without him against BYU, his loss will be more strongly felt against Stanford's power running attack, and he was a large part of the defense that helped hold Stanford in a goal-line stand last year.
Ty Montgomery (Stanford wide receiver) — Montgomery set a school record with five first half touchdowns against Cal last week, finding the end zone in almost every way imaginable — deep passes, short passes, screens and end arounds. He remains a constant threat to score on special teams, too, with two returns for touchdown this year. You can bet that Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is currently figuring out how to slow him.
Trent Murphy (Stanford outside linebacker) — 13.0 sacks and 19.0 tackles for loss say it all — Murphy ranks in the top five nationwide for each category, and if Notre Dame wants to function effectively on offense, they'll have to have a plan for him.
Two things at stake
Stanford already has a Pac-12 Championship game berth locked up, so a loss here cannot hurt them in that regard, although it certainly wouldn't look good ahead of their matchup with ASU.
You may not believe in the transitive property when it comes to college football, but Notre Dame has already beaten ASU this year, 37-34. The Irish have no hope of a BCS bid and obviously do not have division opponents to keep ahead of, so this one is mostly for postseason bowl positioning.
How to witness
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FOX
If you'd like to read up on the Pac-12 North champions, visit Rule of Tree.