November 25, 2017: Stanford Cardinal running back Bryce Love (20) tries to blow by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, during a NCAA Football game between the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Stanford Cardinal at the Stanford Stadium in Stanford, California. Valerie Shoaps/CSM (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)
by Jerry Feitelberg
PALO ALTO, Calif. — The Stanford Cardinal played host to the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish Saturday night at Stanford Stadium. The Irish, ranked ninth in the nation before the start of the game, gave the Cardinal all they could handle for the first three-quarters of the game.
The Irish and the Cardinal went at it tooth-and-nail. The lead changed hands several times, and the outcome was in doubt until the fourth quarter. In the final stanza of the game, everything went wrong for Notre Dame. They committed two turnovers that led to 14 points for Stanford.
The Irish used a no-huddle offense to keep Stanford from substituting players on defense. That strategy did not work as the Stanford defense rose to the occasion and made three huge plays on defense that led the Cardinal to a 38-20 win over Notre Dame.
Also, the Washington Huskies beat the Washington State Cougars gave the Pac-12 North championship to Stanford. Stanford will now play the University of Southern California Trojans next Friday at Levi Stadium. If the Cardinal avenge the 42-24 loss to the Trojans in the second game of the season, the Cardinal will win the Pac-12 title and may not be playing in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s day as the Rose Bowl is part of the FBS playoff series. The winner will probably go to the Fiesta Bowl.
The first quarter so far has been a battle of defenses. Neither team could do anything for the first 11 minutes of the game. However, with third and seven, Irish quarterback Brandon Winbush hit a wide-open Kevin Stepherson for an 83-yard scoring strike. The extra point was good. It was the longest pass play for Notre Dame since the 2010 season. It was a three-play 86-yard scoring drive that took just 39 seconds. The Irish led 7-0.
The Cardinal tied the game at 7 when they went on a five-play, 72-yard drive to score with 43 seconds left in the quarter. The key plays were a 21-yard strike to J J Arcega Whiteside to the Irish 48. The referees called pass interference on the Irish, and that moved the ball to the Irish 29. Costello found Trent Irwin in the end zone for the score. The extra point was good to tie the score.
The Cardinal forced the Irish to punt early in the second quarter. It was a 35-yard punt with no return, but the Cardinal had good field position as they started their drive from their 45-yard line. K.J. Costello led them on a six-play, 55-yard drive for the Cardinal’s second score of the game. The key plays were a 20-yard and a 26-yard pass to tight end Kaden Smith. The scoring play was a four-yard pass to Arcega-Whiteside for the score. The Cardinal led 14-7 with 11:35 left to play in the first half. The Irish went on a 15-play 69-yard drive that stalled at the Cardinal 21-yard line. Justin Yoon kicked a field goal for Notre Dame, and the Cardinal led 14-10 with 2:36 left in the half.
The Irish started the second half with a bang. On the first play from scrimmage, Winbrush hit Equanimeaous St.Brown with a 75-yard pass play for the score. The point after was good. The drive took all of 12 seconds, and the Irish went ahead 17-14. It was the first time in Notre Dame’s long history that they have had two passing scores of more than 75 yards in a game. The Cardinal took the ensuing kickoff from their 29-yard line and went on a nine-play, 64-yard drive that stalled at the Notre Dame seven-yard line. Jet Toner kicked a field goal to the score at seventeen The drive took four minutes and 19 seconds off the clock. The Irish pinned the Cardinal down at the one-yard. The Cardinal couldn’t move the ball and had to punt from their seven-yard line. Bailey’s kick went 53 yards, but the Irish ran it back 41 to the Cardinal 19. The Irish picked up two five-yard penalties and their drive stalled at the Cardinal 21. Justin Yoon kicked a 39-yard field goal for the Irish as they reclaimed the lead 20-17.
In the fourth quarter, the Cardinal went on a seven-play, 70-yard drive, lasting two minutes and 37 seconds. The Cardinal appeared to stall at the Irish 19.
With third and nine, coach David Shaw called a timeout. On the next play, Costello hit Kaden Smith in the end zone for the touchdown. The extra point was good, and the Cardinal had the lead with 13:46 left in the game.
On the first play for the Irish after the touchdown, Wimbush’s pass was intercepted by Curtis Robinson. Robinson grabbed the ball at the 35-yard line and took it back to the Irish 29.
It took Costello and company to put the ball into the end zone for another Cardinal touchdown. Costello found tight end Dalton Schultz in the end zone for the score. Toner made the extra point, and Stanford now led 31-20 with 12:21 left.
The Irish woes continued to mount as C.J. Sanders fumbled the kickoff at the Irish 18-yard line that was recovered by Stanford. Bryce Love made two great runs to get the ball down to the Irish three-yard line. Cameron Scarlett pushed the pigskin over the goal line for the touchdown. Toner’s extra point was good, and the Cardinal has a three-score advantage 38-20 with 10:11 left in the game.
With time running out, the Irish mounted a drive that would have narrowed the gap to 10 points. With the ball at the Cardinal 24, Winbush’s pass into the end zone was picked off by safety Frank Buncom for a touchback. It was the third turnover of the game for the Irish. The Irish could do no more, and the Cardinal wins by a final score of 38-20
Game notes and stats — K.J.Costello completed 14 of 22 passes good for four touchdowns, and he did not throw an interception. The Cardinal did not commit a turnover in the win. Bryce Love had 20 carries for 125 yards, averaging 6.3 yards per carry. Love became the third Cardinal back to exceed 1800 yards in a season. The other two backs were Toby Gearhart and Christian McCaffrey. Notre Dame’s quarterback, Brandon Winbush, was 11 for 28 in the passing department. He threw for two touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions.
Stanford will play USC for the Pac-12 crown next Friday at Levi Stadium. 47,352 people watched the Cardinal improve to 9-3 for the year.
Notre Dame also ended the season at 9-3.