For the final Tuesday of the regular season, Brian Kelly hosted his weekly opponent preview press conference. And it’s clear that the Irish head coach understands the challenge that No. 8 Stanford presents.
The Irish have played some good teams this season. But Kelly made it clear that he thinks Stanford is the best one he’ll face this season, praising David Shaw’s team to open his remarks.
“We play our fourth Top‑25 team this weekend and our most difficult competition in that Stanford is a veteran football team, well‑coached, plays physical on both sides of the ball,” Kelly said. “I think more importantly, you know, plays with a confidence and a swagger that is apparent when you win as many football games as they have over the past half a dozen years.”
Of course, with two losses, the Cardinal aren’t perfect. They lost to a USC team the Irish beat and a Utah team that’s gone a staggering 1-7 in conference play.
Kelly talked about the similarities between the two teams, pointing out that the Irish also fell to (at least) two teams that on paper seem surprising.
“I think you can make that case for us, as well,” Kelly said. “I think sometimes, it’s not evident in terms of tactically, but simply sometimes just not making enough plays.
“You watch them on film and it’s just a play here or there. Stanford has won a lot of close games. That game, there wasn’t anything there that you would watch in Utah and say, well, they can’t do this or they didn’t do that. I just think that they didn’t make enough plays, didn’t get a couple crucial plays to go their way that had gone in some other games.”
A year after the Irish won a game where every yard was fought for, Kelly talked about the similarities between the two programs, who are fighting for some very valuable real estate.
“Both teams want to be the smartest, toughest football teams in the country,” Kelly said. “Stanford right now is ranked eighth in the country. We are ranked 25th. We get a chance to decide it on the football field. Last year we were able to get Stanford. Now we’ve got a chance to settle it again on Saturday. It’s a great rivalry.”
You can watch all 35 minutes of the press conference below.