Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 1, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 38 of 55 OCT. 1, 2018 39 vid Shaw, stout, physical defense had been the identity and bread and but- ter of the program until last season. The 5.98 yards per play Stanford surrendered in 2017 was the worst at the program in 10 years. It espe- cially manifested itself by ranking No. 68 versus the run (169.0 yards allowed per game) — and that was with third-round pick Harrison Phil- lips' dominant presence up front. This year, the Cardinal also needed to replace secondary standouts Jus- tin Reid and Quenton Meeks. The 22.7 points allowed per game last fall (34th in the country) wasn't bad, but it was below Cardinal standards, es- pecially while permitting 31.2 points per contest in the five defeats. Yet even last year it was the de- fense that elevated its game in the fourth quarter against Notre Dame. With a Big Six bowl invitation on the line, 9-2 and No. 8-ranked Notre Dame took a 20-17 lead into the fourth quarter versus No. 21 Stan- ford. The Cardinal then proceeded to score three consecutive touchdowns in a span of 3:36 early in the fourth quarter, with the latter two coming on 29- and 18-yard drives following an interception toss by quarterback Brandon Wimbush and a fumbled kickoff by C.J. Sanders. Notre Dame outgained Stanford in total yardage 415-328, but the Cardi- nal's 3-0 advantage in turnovers had far greater bearing on the outcome. On offense, similar to Notre Dame, the line and tight ends have become signature strengths at Stanford the past decade — but the Cardinal's rushing attacks have been more con- sistent with standout running backs, headlined again by 2017 Heisman runner-up Bryce Love (2,118 rushing yards last year at 8.1 yards per carry and 19 touchdowns). Meanwhile, 2013-17 coordinator Mike Bloomgren was named head coach at Rice and replaced by Tavita Pritchard, who was a quarterback for the Cardinal in 2006-09 and has been on the staff since 2010. Starting quarterback K.J. Costello (14-of-22 passing for 176 yards with four touchdowns in the win versus Notre Dame last November) and the air attack provide a quality comple- ment, but defense on both sides will likely be the calling card again in this showdown. TO THE WIRE Similar to Notre Dame's rivalry with Michigan, the series against Stanford, especially since 2004, has usually come down to the final five minutes or last possession. Seven-point wins especially are prevalent. Notre Dame won by seven in three out of four years from 2005-08: 38-31 in 2005, 21-14 in 2007 and 28-21 in 2008, and did the same in 2012 (20-13 in overtime). The Cardinal returned the favor in 2009 (45-38), 2013 (27-20) and 2016 (17-10), with a game-ending field goal to win it in 2015 (38-36) — one year after a fourth-and-11 touchdown pass saved the Irish in a 17-14 triumph. Sometimes when you least expect it, though, these type of close series' can get out of hand (see 49-14 Notre Dame win versus USC last year). ✦ GAME PREVIEW: STANFORD Predictions Corey Bodden: Stanford 24, Notre Dame 20 Expect this to be a low-scoring game — just like the first three at home this season. Maybe my mind changes as the game gets closer, but I haven't seen enough consistency from the Irish offense at this stage. Bryan Driskell: Stanford 24, Notre Dame 20 From a pure talent standpoint, there is little doubt that Notre Dame should win this game. But that has been true in each of its last three losses to the Cardinal. David McKinney: Stanford 20, Notre Dame 13 Do you like high-scoring affairs? If so, this might not be the game for you, and I'm not confident Notre Dame can squeak out enough points to come out on top. Lou Somogyi: Notre Dame 27, Stanford 20 What can I say? I thought Michigan would be due to end their 16-game losing streak on the road versus ranked teams, and now I think Notre Dame is "due" for its senior class not to finish 0-4 versus Stanford. Head coach David Shaw had guided Stanford to five victories in their last seven meetings with Notre Dame, with five of those contests decided by seven points or less. PHOTO COURTESY STANFORDPHOTO.COM

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Oct. 1, 2018