Notre Dame hosts Stanford on Saturday in a big college football game. Both are ranked in the top 20. And in other news, their football teams are ranked, too.
The Notre Dame-Stanford game is believed to be the first matching schools ranked not only in the AP top 20, but the U.S. News & World Report's annual list of America's best universities.
In recent years, the most iconic of the Notre/Stanford academic/football dichotomy, Notre Dame football, hasn't held up its end of the bargain. But that has changed.
The Fighting Irish are 5-0, ranked seventh and, as always, haven't littered their schedule with rumdums. It appears that Brian Kelly, in his third year at Notre Dame, has the Irish back as a serious national contender.
“There is hard work just like there is anywhere else in building a program, but in no way do I believe that you can't … be a competitive BCS football team year in and year out,” Kelly said.
Notre Dame receiver TJ Jones said he takes pride in what his school – and Stanford – has accomplished.
“Just proving it to the world that we can do both,” he said of athletic and academic excellence. “A lot of schools aren't powerhouses both academically and athletically. But to be able to put in the time and effort we do into our schoolwork, to put us at the top ranks and also come out on the field and … be one of the elite teams so far, I think that says a lot.”
Notre Dame is winning with strong defense, led by a stout line. But it's not like Stanford is a video-age team. The Cardinal has remained a hard-nosed, gritty team even without Andrew Luck.
Stanford is 4-1, with a 21-14 victory over Southern Cal to its credit. Beat Stanford, and Notre Dame has only Brigham Young remaining before playing at OU on Oct. 27.