Beyond the Boxscore: Flat Notre Dame Jolted in Stunning Loss to Stanford

Notre Dame sees three-game winning streak end against underdog Cardinal

Playing uninspired ball for much of the night ultimately cost the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in a 16-14 loss to the Stanford Cardinal on Saturday night. The shocking defeat ended the Irish’s three-game winning streak and mirrored the Irish’s earlier loss this season to Marshall. Like this debacle, the Irish fell at home despite entering the clash as double-digit favorites.

Perhaps the most jarring aspect of this crushing loss is that it came against a Cardinal team on a four-game skid that had lost in the final minute just last week. In those four defeats, Stanford had allowed an average of over 38 points per game, yet Notre Dame struggled for much of the evening to move the ball.

Below are some of the key aspects of the loss:

Hurting Their Own Cause

The Irish appeared to be poised to take their second lead with under seven minutes left in the game and trailing by two. However, Audric Estime’s aggressive approach to gaining every yard proved deadly as he fumbled the ball away in Stanford territory, allowing the Cardinal to eat up over four minutes of clock.

Yet, Notre Dame also delivered some self-inflicted wounds during the first half. The most crucial, as it turned out, was Mitchell Evans getting flagged on an illegal man downfield call, which ended up negating a tying touchdown by Michael Mayer. As a result of the blunder, the Irish ended up turning the ball over on downs. Then, late in the first half, Drew Pyne was strip-sacked by Cardinal edge rusher Stephen Herron which was converted into a Stanford field goal as the half ended.

Another Early Rut

One of the major issues that Notre Dame has dealt with this year is the team’s inability to get off to a fast start. In the first five games of 2022, the Irish had been held to just two field goals in the first quarter. That concern once again arose in this game, when Notre Dame was held scoreless for the entire first half.

Following a quick three-and-out to start the game for the Irish, the Cardinal picked up four first downs during their eight-play, 66-yard drive that ended with a touchdown. Stanford focused a good deal of attention during the first two quarters on their passing game and ended the half with 11 first downs and a 10-0 advantage.

Diggs-ing Up Some Bright Spots

The lamentable performance by Notre Dame did see running back Logan Diggs match Estime’s 57 yards on the night to lead the Irish. Diggs also gave the Irish some momentum in the third quarter when he started off the first scoring drive with a 26-yard run. Then, on the fateful series that ended with Estime’s fumble, Diggs kept the series going on a clutch fourth-down play.

Also, for the second straight week, another receiving option may have emerged for Pyne in the form of freshman Tobias Merriweather. After Pyne overthrew Merriweather earlier in the game, the two hooked up for the first time on the opening play of the final, a 41-yard scoring toss that gave the Irish their first and only lead of the game.

Defense on the Defense

Even though Notre Dame’s inability to take advantage of Stanford’s porous defense was especially glaring, the Irish defense didn’t go unscathed in this defeat. The Cardinal outgained the Irish in yardage, 385-301, picking up 21 first downs and converting seven different third-down opportunities.

Stanford moved smoothly down the field on their first drive to take a quick 7-0 lead. They were able to exploit Notre Dame’s problems when it came to trying to bring down ball carriers. One final problem stemmed from the lack of a sustained pass rush against an injury-plagued front line for Stanford, with the Irish picking up just a single sack on the night.

Time Enough to Lose

Even though Stanford was held to a single touchdown, the Notre Dame defense ended the game with the Cardinal holding onto the ball for over 36 minutes. Whether having extra minutes would have aided the struggling Irish offense is open to debate but not getting stops when needed proved to be deadly.

Next Up

Notre Dame remains at home to take on the UNLV Rebels in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Entering their late game against Air Force on Saturday night, the Rebels had a 4-2 record and have shown that they can put points on the board. On two occasions, they’ve tallied over 50 points in a game. Conversely, there are plenty of holes in UNLV’s defense, which has yet to keep a team under 20 points this season.

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  1. I live in Columbus Ohio and I’m really tired of hearing about the buckeyes being so great. They are ready they are more than willing to put the nail in the coffin to their opponents.
    then again all of their games in September were at home and the big 10 is anything but fabulous this year.

    We played the buckeyes tough. I thought that would be a good sign for a potential season filled with possibilities leading to the next chapter.
    I still believe that.
    HOW we lose is consistent. UNINSPIRED OFFENSE lacking direction, basics, fundamentals… CONSISTENTLY.

    The play calling of Tommy Reese is unimaginative. I don’t believe the athletes in other places I got much better than ours. It’s what we are doing or should I say we are not doing to bring out the best. For chances and 10 yards and then I’ll offense of line which should outmuscled the opponent 80 to 85% of the time is not doing it!

    For those of you out there with more knowledge than myself, I would really like to see Tommy Reeces record/ stats while he was at ND. I don’t recall anything that stellar. Does that reflect on his coaching and his present position? One thing is for sure we are consistently bad on offense.

    here in the town of Columbus Ohio with his myopic view I heard nothing but respect for the Notre Dame defense the week after. By the way Buckeye fans are not amused that Notre Dame is not doing so well because it takes away from the strength of schedule ha ha Ha

    if it wasn’t for the defense we might be buried by the marshals and Stanford‘s of this world week after week.
    I hate to say all these things because I believe blue green and gold and I love Notre Dame!

    Go Irish I still believe I really do let’s find out in his third year…The mantra of waiting is getting old isn’t it?
    Freeman needs a come to Jesus talk with Tommy.

  2. I’m not ready to give up on Freeman yet, but my issue is the lack of a mobile qb. Watching TCU, Tenn, Bama, Mich,
    Arkansas, Ole Miss, etc, all give their offenses an added dimension. Not sure if Buchner would have made a difference Sat, but will give Freeman a flyer until I see who he brings in. Maybe the Carr kid.

  3. I agree!! This coach is way in over his head… The inconsistency of this squad really concerns me. They play well against a strong Ohio State, lay a huge egg against a non-power 5 team in Marshall AT HOME, bounce back against Cal for a good win not great but good, beat a high-powered offensive NC team on the road, beat a ranked BYU squad in Vegas that was pretty electric, and you have this sense that ok they are beginning to find themselves and we are finally back on the map towards a successful season and then you lay another hug egg against a Stanord team that we should’ve boat raced and were 16 1/2 point favorites!!!! Big time scratching my head here, send me a lifeline someone please!!! Pretty darn frustrating and it comes down to the poor coaching!

  4. LSU escaped the Swamp with a win…..thanks to a gawdawful roughing the passer call with 6 minutes left that nullified an interception.
    The explanation for the penalty was NOT a late hit (…it wasn’t…) but that a 300-lb lineman is simply too heavy to lie on top of a QB. Not sure how you coach kids around that one….

    Florida was finally rolling in the quarter, and to have Kelly absolutely berate his QB again (despite him being the MVP of that offense) would really have made the finish entertainment gold.

  5. u have to hire a proven winning coach, notre dame is the hardest place there is to win. Ask bob davie, ty willingham & weise, This is what happens wen u hire a 1st time coach to run a major program. So many proven coaches would kill for this job, sadly we have 4 more years to wait.

    1. The rationale offed up at the time of the hire was how critical it was “to keep the recruiting class together”.
      The truth is that Swarbrick preferred to avoid the work required for a proper, professional search.

      1. Willingham was a proven HC, but for reasons unknown own to me, he did zero recruiting. That’s why the University could not give him the usual 5 years. It was, I explicably, that bad!

        Add Faust and even Brennan to your list though.
        The last time an assistant coach w/o any head coaching experience succeeded in this place was 104 years ago (KK ROCNE, 1918, Record 3-1-2. Rockne’s teams went the next two years without a single loss.
        BGC 77 82

      2. Correct, David (maybe).
        Or, our administration did EXACTLY what Father Heasburgh would NOT do when he hired a proven winning coach Gentle Dan Devine) to replace ARA rather than (some of) the players “in-house” choice for head coach.
        Father Hesburgh was not known to be real pliable when he knew he was right.

        BGC 77 82

    2. “Three toughest jobs in the world, President of the US, Mayor of New York, and the Head Coach at Notre Dame” ( Beano Cook, Sport Commentator) Seen in a 1975 Sports Illustrated article on Dan Devine.

      1. Well, that list is now dowwn to two.
        Any tax cheating, habitually lying, racist mysoginist fascist can be POTUS now.

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