Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 17, 2016

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

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34 Oct. 17, 2016 blue & gOld illustrated by Matt JOnes l ast year's matchup between Notre Dame and Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., held signifi‑ cantly more playoff implica‑ tions than this year's installment. The Oct. 15 game at Notre Dame Stadium was supposed to a clash be‑ tween two teams fighting for a spot in the College Football Playoff. The Cardinal entered the season No. 8 in the Associated Press poll, and the Irish were not far behind at No. 10. But a 44‑6 loss at Washington Sept. 30 dropped Stanford down to No. 15 in the poll. "Well that was about as poorly as we could play from start to finish and that's the bot‑ tom line," Stan‑ ford head coach David Shaw said after the loss to Huskies. "I talked to the guys, they understand it, they know it. "We did not rise to the challenge. That starts with me. We didn't do enough to get our guys ready." Notre Dame has been the big‑ ger disappointment, losing a heart‑ breaker to Texas in the opener before back‑to‑back ugly losses to Michigan State Sept. 17 and Duke Sept. 24. The defeats sent the Irish tumbling out of the national picture, and forced players and coaches to take a game‑ by‑game approach. Nevertheless, the two rivals enter this week's contest with plenty of questions. Stanford is coming to terms with its worst loss under Shaw, a result few saw coming. Though the Cardi‑ nal faced a difficult early schedule — Stanford defeated Kansas State, USC and UCLA to open the season — the nature of the loss was jarring for fans. "Evaluating the first four games is kind of interesting for Stanford be‑ cause the record is not unexpected," said Jacob Rayburn, the publisher of "A lot of Stanford fans would have expected a 3‑1 start. It was the nature of the loss that really had a long‑lasting effect and caused a lot of discussion about Stanford moving forward. "It was the worst loss for Stanford since 2006 [42‑0 at the hands of USC]. Unfortunately for the Cardinal, there was a lot of 2006 statistical refer‑ ences in that game, which is an era that Stanford fans always wanted to leave behind. That makes it difficult to evaluate Stanford at the moment." All‑American junior running back Christian McCaffrey ran for 49 yards on 12 carries and caught five passes for 30 yards. It was McCaffrey's fewest yards rushing since 2014 at California when he had 19 yards on three carries. The Cardinal have suffered a multitude of injuries early this sea‑ son. Starting cornerbacks Quenton Meeks, a sophomore, and Alijah Holder, a junior, both missed the Washington game; and junior full‑ back Daniel Marx, senior tight end Greg Taboada and junior offensive lineman Brandon Fanaika have all been dinged up as well. Stanford is taking stock of its cur‑ rent situation while also trying to move past the loss. "In some ways taking stock in the sense that getting back to what was working, getting back to perform‑ ing at the level they know they're capable of," Rayburn said. "At the same time understanding that bad losses happen sometimes, and the point that I made to some people is that the mark of a great program isn't that they never have bad losses like that, it's that they put long stretches of success between those losses. "Stanford finally had one for the first time in about 10 years. Nothing changes in terms of they did well enough to win three tough games against three tough opponents lead‑ in g up to th at week. It's just a matter of, espe‑ cially on the line of scrimmage, reaf‑ firming what they know they can do and brushing up on the technique improvements." McCaffrey took college football by storm in 2015, tallying an NCAA‑ record 3,864 all‑purpose yards and finishing second to Alabama's Der‑ rick Henry in the Heisman Trophy voting. It was always going to be dif‑ ficult to top his stellar sophomore season, though many expected the 6‑0, 200‑pound son of former Stan‑ ford and NFL wide receiver Ed Mc‑ Caffrey to impress the nation again. Through four games, McCaffrey had 485 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, plus 149 yards and one score receiving. He was aver‑ aging 214.5 all‑purpose yards per game, slightly down from the 276.0 he posted in 2015. "Coach Shaw has touched on this is a couple of press conferences, and the word he used was 'spoiled.' Everybody got spoiled last season watching a historic season," Ray‑ burn said. "There was a reason it was called historic, they don't hap‑ pen very often. The numbers were never really going to be there to the same degree that they were last year. "If for no other reason than it's al‑ most impossible to do, and then add‑ gaMe Preview: stanfOrd Facts & Figures stanfOrd vs. nOtre daMe Game Info Date: Oct. 15, 2016. Site: Notre Dame Stadium (80,795). Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Television: NBC. Radio: This broadcast can be heard live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio (channel 129). Series Facts: This is the 31st all-time meet- ing between Notre Dame and Stanford. Notre Dame holds a 19-11 advantage the Cardinal. Coaches: Stanford — David Shaw (57-16, sixth season); Notre Dame — Brian Kelly (57-27, seventh season). Noting Stanford: The Cardinal has played in 15 Rose Bowls — the third-most appearances of any team, behind only USC's 33 and Michi- gan's 22 … Shaw was a wide receiver at Stan- ford from 1991-94, and he caught 57 passes for 664 yards and scored five touchdowns during his playing career … Notre Dame has a 12-3 all-time mark at home against Stanford and has won the last two matchups at Notre Dame Stadium. CUT DOWN After blowout loss to Washington, Cardinal looking to get back on track Junior running back christian Mccaffrey aver- aged 214.5 all-purpose yards per game during stanford's 3-1 start, down from the 276.0 he produced last season en route to finishing sec- ond in the Heisman trophy voting. Photo courtesy

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