Beyond the Boxscore: Notre Dame Hammers Stanford for Seventh Straight Win

Irish Collect Over 500 Yards Total Offense for Second Game in a Row

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish needed to make a clear statement about their viability for a playoff berth and appeared to do it with a 45-14 win over the Stanford Cardinal on Saturday night. The victory was the Irish’s seventh in a row, giving them an 11-1 season mark that they’re hoping is good enough for a chance at a national championship.

From the opening drive, Notre Dame was in control of the contest, finishing with 509 yards of total offense. They stopped Stanford on a three-and-out to start the game and then marched 74 yards on five plays for the first of their six touchdowns. Through three quarters, the Irish defense allowed just 79 total yards before easing up with a 31-7 advantage.

Below are some key aspects of the Irish win.

Coan of Domination

Entering this matchup, Notre Dame quarterback Jack Coan was in a position to have a big night, given Stanford’s woeful passing defense. In the first half, he rarely was pressured, a situation that allowed him to complete 18 of 23 for 198 yards, including touchdown passes to both Braden Lenzy and George Takacs.

For the game, Coan was 26 of 35 for 345 yards, including those two touchdown tosses. That yardage marked his second-largest total of the season and offered some perfect symmetry for his strong performance thst helped start the 2021 campaign. While Coan usually had plenty of time to find an open man, he was sacked once in each half on the night and his lone interception toss helped set up Stanford’s first score. Tyler Buchner also saw some action and scored on a 33-yard run to make it 38-14.

Keeping the Lid Mostly Shut

During Nore Dame’s previous three games, the Irish defense had not allowed a touchdown, a streak that continued against Stanford during the first half of action. The Cardinal were completely shut down in their first five drives, collecting just 23 yards of total offense on 15 plays. Notre Dame’s thriving pass rush helped play a role, with twins Jayson and Justin Ademilola each collecting a sack.

That denial of the end zone came to an end when the Cardinal managed to break through twice for scores after the break. The first came after Coan’s interception on the opening series of the second half. The ball was returned to the Irish 13-yard-line. That was quickly converted with a touchdown run. While the blame for that score fell largely on the Irish offense, the same couldn’t be said for the latter tally. That came on a 49-yard scoring toss to Benjamin Yurosek on a crossing route in which he simply outran four Notre Dame defenders.

Target Practice

As has been the case all season long, Coan primarily relied on the receiving skills of tight end Michael Mayer and wide receiver Kevin Austin to bolster his numbers. The two receivers combined for 15 catches and both broke the century mark in yardage. Mayer’s nine catches amounted to 105 yards on the evening, while Austin made the most of his six catches, finishing with 125 yards.

There was likely some deja vu on Austin’s first grab, a 33-yard catch on the first Notre Dame play from scrimmage. Last week, it was a 38-yard Coan-to-Austin throw to start the rout of Georgia Tech. Lenzy and Lorenzo Styles also contributed four receptions apiece, joining three others who caught a pass from Coan.

Miscue Mess

Stanford entered the game with a 3-8 record, hoping to simply put an end to what’s been a forgettable season. During the game, there were clear signs exactly why the Cardinal have struggled in 2021. Mistakes and missed opportunities helped prevent them from keeping pace with the Irish.

Flagged nine times for 64 yards, Stanford was twice called for offsides on Notre Dame’s first scoring drive. What would have been the Cardinal’s first touchdown was called back by a penalty, while a Stanford fumble early in the second quarter led to three Irish points. Another fumble by the Cardinal led to Notre Dame’s final six-pointer.

Next Up for Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame is headed for the postseason, though exactly where they end up remains a mystery until next weekend. They narrowly missed taking a giant step forward to the college football playoff after Alabama came back and defeated Auburn in four overtimes on Saturday. The Irish could still make the field of four schools, but it will now require an upset in either the Big Ten, SEC or the American Athletic Conference title games. In the case of the SEC, it may require a Georgia blowout win over Alabama. Based on their past four games, Notre Dame is clicking at the right time, with a scoring differential of 162-23 over that span.

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  1. Sorry, I’m just not sold. ND just beat the crap out of 2 opponents….THAT THEY WERE SUPPOSE TO BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF! Come on. This is not the Stanford of the Harbaugh years. ND beat a team they were supposed to beat.

    Now, yes, it ND did everything it possibly could to impress, considering the level of the opponents. And I want to be fair, there’s no doubt ND has improved as the season has gone on. They’re a better team than the team that barely beat Toledo and FSU.

    But I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid. I still don’t see them beating a NY Day 6 bowl team and certainly not a playoff team. We know they’ll at least get a NY Day bowl. Now…go in and beat an OSU or Alabama, then I’ll start drinking the Kool-Aid. But come on people. We’ve seen this story before, many times under BK. They always get exposed by the true elites in CFB.

    I give BK credit for making ND respectable. Again, in complete fairness, he’s not a terrible coach. ND beats the teams nowadays they are supposed to beat. We couldn’t say that during the D/W/W years. And on occasion during the regular season, they may even beat a team they are supposed to lose to. But when it comes to the true elites of CFB, BK is just not that coach.

    I’ll root for ND of course, even when the odds are stacked against us. I AM a fan at the end of the day. But I’ll believe it when I see it. Beat an OSU or an Alabama, then we’ll talk.

  2. Notre Dame replaced:

    – Winningest QB in school history
    – 4 starters on OL
    – Best LB in college football
    – Defensive coordinator

    And they just went 11-1.

    Brian Kelly has three undefeated seasons under his belt, but this may be his best job yet.

    1. He’s SO dreamy!
      But sadly, married.

      So just put one of those T-shirt aside, and drape it over Kelly’s statue in the grotto.
      …your silent torch, for a love that must forever go unrequited.

  3. Rhonda should sell “ND is Great Again” T-shirts online, with the season schedule and scores on the back.
    And maybe “Stop the Steal” shirts, with the four playoff teams’ logos crossed out.

    1. Ooohhh..another shirt idea:

      “Brian Kelly wins PLENTY!
      …not as many as Nick Saban,
      …and never against Nick Saban,
      …and no BIG games, llke Nick Saban,
      But a LOT !

      (and you could put some shamrocks along the bottom.)

      1. More shirt ideas for our girlfriend of color:

        “Thousands of Coaches Poll Voters are DEAD!”
        “The BCS Committee was Appointed by Obama!”
        “”The SEC Runs a Child Prostitution Ring”

    2. “david,”

      You need to start a career as a political/football comedian. And I mean that as a compliment! This rant is just too outrageously funny!

      BTW: I think these might actually sell. So, you should look into getting an investor for seed funds.

  4. Since 2004 only Nick Saban has won more games as a head coach than Brian Kelly.
    Simply amazing.
    Thanks coach!
    ND is great again!
    I thank God every day I never instituted a personal boycott of ND football.

  5. David, all your past talk about “the truth of the marketplace”and all that implies that you can read a simple trend graph. Yet such a graph from 2016 to today for BK and ND would be pretty steep (upward)… and when we win our first NY6 Bowl in a month or so, there will be only one step left, an NC. Now BK may or may not get that, but either way, he’s done his rebuilding job at ND, and the fans and players love him…you are stuck with that pal.

    BGC 77 82

  6. More top-level programs have become less patient to win than ever.
    And more top-level coaches have been moving around, and cashing in for more money, in the past 2 or 3 years than ever before.

    Meanwhile, back at Notre Dame……

    1. David, all your past talk about “the truth of the marketplace”and all that implies that you can read a simple trend graph. Yet such a graph from 2016 to today for BK and ND would be pretty steep (upward)… and when we win our first NY6 Bowl in a month or so, there will be only one step left, an NC. Now BK may or may not get that, but either way, he’s done his rebuilding job at ND, and the fans and players love him…you are stuck with that pal.

      BGC 77 82

  7. I can just see it:
    USC brass were watching the Stanford game….and decided to call Riley’s agent back before it ended.

    1. I get it you dont like Kelly. I dont care for him that much either but the bottom line is he will be at Notredame at least 3 more years because Jack Swarbrick loves him and as long as Jack is Notredames AD Kelly’s not going anywhere. Let’s just hope when he leaves. Fickell or another great coach will come to Notredame.

      1. He’s a fraud who has parlayed not getting fired into being a ND legend who’s won nothing.
        Good enough for you. Not me.

  8. According to the latest AP Top 25 poll and if the regular season was officially complete today the CFP would look like this if I were running things. 8 team playoff

    1. Georgia vs 8. Ole Miss

    2. Michigan vs 7. Ohio State

    3. Alabama vs 6. Notre Dame

    4. Cincinati vs 5. Oklahoma State

  9. Re: current forum thread about Gary Dainelson’s Alabama fellatio.
    ESPN and Herbstreit were almost as bad doing the OU-Ok St. game.

    Eg. Two defensive linemen for OU (8 and 31) were blasting off the line WAY early, at least 8 times in the 2nd half. TV replays were so blatant they stopped showing them. Refs kept ‘missing” it (ha), and the jerks in the booth defended the nonsense saying that ‘he got a great jump, but hadn’t crossed the neutral zone”. WTF does that even mean !?

    There was other stuff that was at least debateable, but everything was same-sided.
    Shamelessly and unapologetically in the bag for OU.

    The repeated uncalled fouls directly caused OSU to give up a safety, and OU went on a 16 point run, almost costing Pokes the game. After OU got up more by than a TD, the refs began calling it, and it stopped.

    Overcoming that kind of “southern sherriff” corruption made that win even more impressive.

  10. Yes, not sure Notredame is playoff worthy but if they did make the playoffs although I dont think they would win I dont think they would get blown out for 3 reasons. One with Ohio State not there I dont see a 50 points a game offense like 2020 Alabama or 2019 LSU or 2018 Clemson. Number 2 With a month to prepare I believe Freeman is really good and would have a great game plan scheme for whoever Notredame would play. Finally, I feel Notredame has some real playmakers on defense that can slow teams down Foskey, Adiomola twins ,Kyle Hamilton the linebackers are very good. The reason I dont feel Notredame could beat Georgia, and probably Michigan, Alabama is the offensive line isn’t good enough. For example I think Coan and Kyron would really struggle against Georgia and Michigans Defense and somewhat struggle against Cincinnati and Oklahoma States defense.

    1. For giggles, let’s assume ND was just as talented, capable, and efficient as anyone else.
      Absolutely equal players, top to bottom. Okay so far?

      Well… still has zombie Brian Kelly as the head coach. Going against the most capable, game-tested, engaged, driven coaches in the game.

      They’ve lost before they take the field.

      1. True David but if Brian Kelly hired a great o coordinator gave the guy total control and kept his nose completely out of the offense Notredame could win it all. We have seen it. Ed Ogeron is a terrible head coach but he hired two great offensive coordinator s Joe Brady and Emminger and he was smart enough to bring in Joe Burrow and he was smart enough to let Brady and Emminger put it all together. Results national championship 50 points a game.

      2. Ed Orgeron loves college football, is a bigger-than-life character, and clearly has an ability to really relate to his kids… the cost of his relationship with his employers. They played all-out for him yesterday.

        Brian Kelly was a pompous asshole, who got himself in a coaching rehab ward in 2016, and has toed the company line, always protecting his own ass first.
        A medicated zombie watching his retirement clock tick down. .

  11. For those ND fans raving and fuming about the possibility of Alabama getting into the playoff, that for it to do so would be giving them “too much credit for just being Bama”, as opposed to, as the argument has gone, “based strictly by their performance on the field this year”.

    Dear Pot: You are black.
    Your pal, Kettle.

    PS: Girl, that Rhonda child is one hot mess!

  12. Two points re: ND reaching the CFP:
    * Ok. St. will likely jump ND (maybe even this week) but probably w/a victory over Baylor, which is even more likely if Baylor’s QB Bohanon isn’t back. A one-loss OK. St., claiming the Big 12 championship, having beaten two top ten teams the last two weeks would guarantee them jumping ND.
    No way the committee will snub a Big 12 one-loss conference champ, again, in favor of ND.
    ** A Bama win in the SEC guarantees both Georgia and Bama in the final four, so be careful for what you wish. And Cincy losing would almost guarantee OK. St. jumping ND with a win over Baylor.
    Iowa beating Michigan, not counting on that, won’t be enough unless Baylor and Georgia win. So for those wanting a final four placement, you’re going to need Georgia to finally eliminate Bama, and then Baylor or Iowa or Houston victories. Regardless, ND’s loss and their unimpressive wins over mediocre teams early seem to have negated their last four impressive wins according to the committee, despite blowouts versus, I know, less than challenging opponents. PLayoffs unlikely, but at least a NY6 bowl seems to be a lock. A lot will have to go NDs way to make the CFP, but 11-1 is something I didn’t expect at the end of September. They’ve improved, something I haven’t been able to say every season. And this would be the first time ND in the final four wouldn’t elicit pre-game nightmares leading up to it.

    1. Cincy and Ok St. losing next week is a real possibility.
      And that these are defacto “play-in” games for both of them further dismisses any misguided perception that 11-1 ND, having beaten no one…and played only one above-average team and lost….deserved any consideration at all.

  13. I just read on the forum board that ND’s last 7 opponents are 31-48.
    That’s a far worse schedule than I even thought.

    Cincinnati was the only worthwhile game of the season.

    The playoffs. Riiiiiiiight…..

    1. Ok…don’t take this wrong…I’m not advocating for a playoff. Personally I’d rather get a NY6 bowl and win it. Think better for recruiting and like to leave this year with a good feeling.

      That said….other than UGA (which is having a historic defensive year on par with LSU’s historic offensive year a couple back) I don’t think ND would be overmatchedd by any of the other contenders.

      Cincy didn’t face the current iteration of the ND offense. They were playing at their ceiling when the beat us, ND wasn’t. Maybe they win again, maybe they don’t.

      Just can’t get to scared of Michigan. Would like to see their running game against ND front 7.

      Ok state….um, not all that impressed.

      Alabama….actually think ND matches up quite well this year and some revenge could be sweet. Saywahat you will about ND weak opponents…Bama beat Mercer (FCS), and Southern Miss and New Mex state (from the, hey you guys play football? Conference). They barely escaped 6-6 Florida and Auburn. They lost to a Tex AM team that got beat by Mississipi State and LSU. Seems to me, this year at least, the Tide has turned.

      Again, I think ND and anyone else is just meat for UGA this year so don’t mind not making playoffs. Maybe a nice bowl game against Bama….or the the Bucknuts.

      All in all. A damn fine year. Fully expected 9 -3 and to pull out a 11 win year was great to watch.

      1. The beauty of playing a ridiculous scgedule is no one can possibly know how good you MIGHT be. True enough.
        Personally, I’m very sure they’d be unprepared, overmatched, outcoached, and left for dead by halftime. Again.
        Your imagined results may differ.

        But take this any way you like: With only 4 spots available, ND cannot be given one. Too many very good teams have actually played tough games to earned the chance.

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