For the first time this season, Notre Dame needed something big to happen late. Everett Golson wasn’t having a good game, but the return-from-suspension quarterback has come through for them all season long, and it wasn’t any different with a big, late, on a fourth down touchdown pass to deliver the 17-14 win over Stanford.
The win keeps Notre Dame undefeated, the only one of the Independent teams, which means that the number 9 team in the nation should get quite the bounce up the rankings with several teams above them losing in a wild weekend of upsets and ranking-changers. This was the first game this season that the Irish won by less than 16 points, and it came despite Golson completing just 20-of-43 pass and having one pass intercepted.
Stanford lose for the second time this season, and takes a big hit in their bid to make the College Football playoffs. That’s great news for Oregon who also lost a game this weekend, but right now both teams are looking from below at Arizona, the only undefeated team in the Pac-12. UCLA also entered this weekend undefeated but lost at home to a very late Utah Field goal, another one-loss team in a very difficult conference to figure out right now.
The Cardinal took the lead in the loss with a Kevin Hogan touchdown run. It was a bad game for Hogan, completing just 50% of his passes and throwing two interceptions. When Notre Dame made their run towards the national title in 2012, a close and dramatic win over Stanford was part of the schedule, so maybe hitting 5-0 after a win over a very similar team is a good way to get themselves focused to play Florida State with only two weeks before the showdown with the current number one team.
Stanford couldn’t get anything going on offense. Hogan threw for just 158 yards while the ground game was abysmal, held to only 47 yards on 32 carries. Notre Dame have been a very good defensive team these last three seasons, but they seem to be back on their A game this season, only with a game changer in the form of Golson, who is a much better quarterback in his 2014 version after spending the entire season in 2013 out on suspension.
Golson, as we mentioned, didn’t have a very good game. He still threw two touchdown passes and also keeping plays alive with 34 yards on seven carries. He completed a touchdown pass to Chris Brown in the second quarter to give Notre Dame their first points in the game, but his big moment came with a 4th-and-11 on the Stanford 23, with Notre Dame down by four points. Just over a minute to go, Golson hit Ben Koyack for the touchdown.
The ending was about defense, as Elijah Shumate sacked Kevin Hogan for a loss of 16 yards from the Stanford 49. Hogan was also cited for intentional grounding, and the battle of two similar teams was over. Stanford are now waiting for other teams to lose so they don’t miss out on the train in the Pac-12, while Notre Dame seem to be good enough to dream about being in the playoffs, and maybe even something bigger.