Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 17, 2016

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

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Page 40 of 55 OCT. 17, 2016 41 ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS The obvious majority of attention in the matchup will center on junior running back Christian McCaffrey, who set the NCAA single-season all- purpose yardage record (3,864) last season en route to his runner-up fin- ish in the Heisman voting. Nevertheless, Notre Dame's de- fense did a laudable job of keeping McCaffrey under control, with his 27 carries netting only 94 yards (3.5 yards per carry), and none going for more than 11 yards. His three recep- tions totaled merely 19 yards, his one punt return was good for six yards and none of his five kickoff returns were longer than 26 yards. With so much emphasis on defense to halt McCaffrey, other areas can become more vulnerable — and fifth- year senior quarterback Kevin Ho- gan took advantage by completing 17 of 21 passes for 269 yards with four touchdowns. While Hogan did not necessarily possess the tangible physical quali- ties the NFL desires (he was a fifth- round pick), his smarts, efficiency, poise and leadership helped carry the Cardinal to victory. Minus Hogan, Stanford has proven to be more vulnerable on offense this season, as reflected in the 44-6 loss at Washington Sept. 30 when McCaf- frey was held to 49 rushing yards. Notre Dame's defense might not be able to contain McCaffrey at the same level it did last season, but it might not need to if the quarterback play by the Cardinal remains average, or below what Hogan supplied. CLOSE ENCOUNTERS Not since 2000-06 when Notre Dame and Michigan State had seven straight contests that were decided by seven or less points has a Fighting Irish rivalry had more end-of-game tension/drama than the past four meetings with Stanford: • In 2012, No. 7 Notre Dame's dra- matic goal-line stand in overtime af- ter No. 17 Stanford had first-and-goal at the four preserved a 20-13 victory, but only after waiting several min- utes for confirmation from the replay booth. The Irish sent the game into overtime on a 22-yard field goal by Kyle Brindza with 20 seconds left, after a 79-yard drive that took 5:22. • In 2013, the Irish had two chances in the final 6:23 of play to at least tie the score after trailing 27-20, but interceptions by Wayne Lyons on both, the latter with 2:24 remaining, helped the Pac-12 champs preserve the victory. • In 2014, with No. 9 Notre Dame trailing No. 14 Stanford 14-10 and facing fourth-and-11 from the Car- dinal 23, Irish quarterback Everett Golson evaded pressure and rifled a go-for-broke bullet to tight end Ben Koyack in the end zone, who man- aged to stay barely in bounds for the game-winner with 1:01 left. Notre Dame hung on for the 17-14 triumph. • Last season, Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer appeared to break Stanford hearts again when he scored from two yards and kicker Justin Yoon kicked the extra point for a 36-35 lead with only 30 seconds remaining. Alas, Stanford QB Kevin Hogan marched the Cardinal 45 yards in five plays to set up Conrad Ukropina's 45-yard field goal as time expired. Five meetings in a row down to the final series? Quite possible. ✦ GAME PREVIEW: STANFORD In 2012, Notre Dame's goal-line stand versus running back Stepfan Taylor and the Cardinal helped pre- serve a 20-13 Irish overtime victory. PHOTO COURTESY STANFORDPHOTO.COM Predictions Corey Bodden: Stanford 31, Notre Dame 30 The Cardinal will be the best defensive team the Irish has faced up to this point. Stanford's of- fense hasn't broken out just yet, but this could be the game it happens with Christian McCaffrey the difference. Bryan Driskell: Notre Dame 30, Stanford 24 A tale of opposites. Stanford has played stingy defense, which has helped overcome its sluggish offense. Notre Dame has been explosive offensively, but its defense has struggled. The potent Irish offense will carry the day. Matt Jones: Stanford 35, Notre Dame 34 In what should be a tight game at Notre Dame Stadium, the Irish do a good job bottling up Christian McCaffrey, but the Cardinal make a few plays in the fourth quarter to pull out the win. David McKinney: Stanford 44, Notre Dame 42 Both of these teams have performed worse than I thought they would at the beginning of the season. However, Stanford still has Christian McCaffrey, and Notre Dame still has a tackling problem. Lou Somogyi: Stanford 31, Notre Dame 28 The greatest optimism jolt any Notre Dame football team or follower can receive is when the public — and me — starts picking against them with greater consistency. Had to do it sooner or later.

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