Editor’s Note: This was originally published on November 29, 2013 in preparation of Notre Dame’s 2013 showdown with Stanford a year after this epic goal line stand. We have reposted it today, October 13, 2016 with Stanford coming to town and Notre Dame fans needing something positive to the look at.
A little over a year ago, 60 minutes was not enough time for a winner to emerge when Notre Dame and Stanford squared off. The two needed an overtime period that will live on for the ages in Notre Dame lore for someone to walk away victorious. It was a game that no Notre Dame fan will forget. One of those games that you remember where you were who you were with and what you were drinking when you watched you it.
After Tommy Rees connected with TJ Jones on the first possession in overtime to give the Irish a 20-13 point lead, all the Irish needed to do to stay undefeated was keep the Cardinal out of the end zone – something they had excelled at all season.
Stanford quickly moved the ball inside the Notre Dame 10 yard line for a first goal. Would the Irish defense once again bend but not break inside the 10 or would the Cardinal offense break through and force a second overtime.
On first down Stanford ran Taylor to the three yard line. On 2nd and goal from the three, the Cardinal ran Taylor again and a few Stanford players thought they reached the endzone. They hadn’t. Third and goal from the Irish 1 yard. Taylor got it again and ran into an Irish wall lead by none other than Manti Te’o. This time Stanford knew they didn’t score.
All Stanford needed was less than a yard on 4th and goal from inside the Notre Dame one yard to force a second time after failing to score on those first three attempts by Taylor from inside the Irish 10 yard line. They never got it.
4th and goal. Inside the 1 yard line again. David Shaw and the Cardinal staff figured surely they would be able to punch it in on their 4th rushing attempt inside the 10. Shaw and company, however, forgot that, as Mike Mayock so eloquently put it, “they haven’t been scored on since September.” They of course, was the Notre Dame defense.
Taylor got the ball again. Bennett Jackson came flying off the edge to hit Taylor in the backfield. Taylor spun off and ran into a wall of Zeke Motta, Matthias Farley, Carlo Calabrese, and Manti Te’o. Taylor squirmed and rolled over. The Irish kept pushing. Play over. Game Over.
The Irish won the battle and the war on one play. Taylor was down. Notre Dame was still undefeated and the Irish stormed the field with as much ferocity as the driving rain that had arrived earlier in the game.
But wait. “The previous play is under review,” came over the loud speaker and nearly three gut wrenching minutes passed before the referee emerged on the field to make the call.
DOWN. GAME OVER.
He’s not in right?
No way they overturn that!
All of those text messages and more came flooding into my phone from a few of the UHND regulars immediately after the play. Those three minutes felt like three hours though and soon we all began to worry. Why was it taking this long to review it the play?
With each minute that passed my confidence level took another hit. By the time the referee walked back onto the field and NBC set up the tri-fold view of the ref, Kelly, and Shaw, I was already thinking about double overtime scenarios because I was sure the play was going to be overturned.
Then the most beautiful words uttered all season long came blaring across the speaker system at the bar I was at watching the game with UHND’s own Lady Irish.
“The ruling on the field in fact stands as called”.
After that, everything else was a blur. The Irish stormed the field – again. Notre Dame was still undefeated with a chance to move into the top 5 the following day. My phone was flooded with another set of text messages most of which are unfit for print.
After getting knocked around by Stanford for three straight years, the Irish punched back, and the Tree fell.
Stanford fans and many in the media still swear that Taylor was in the end-zone but after watching the play at least 100 times, I still see no replay showing Taylor in the end zone before he was down. If anything, the more I watch the play the more I am convinced the call on the field and in the booth were 100% correct. None of that really matters though. What matters is Taylor was ruled down and the replay booth saw nothing to dispute that call.
A year later the game won’t feature two teams with national title aspirations as did last year in South Bend. ESPN College Gameday won’t be on hand and the Gameday Crew will probably hardly give the matchup much mention on Saturday morning with more marquee games on the slate this weekend.
Notre Dame and Stanford have both had disappointing regular seasons in 2013. Both have many quality wins over top 25 teams, but both have also lost games they shouldn’t have to unranked opponents. The outcome will really have little to impact on either team’s post season plans as well. Stanford is already locked in for a berth in the Pac 12 Championship to determine if they are going to the Rose Bowl and the Irish lost any hope of a BCS berth with the loss to Pitt a few weeks ago.
While the luster might not be there like it was last year when ESPN College Gameday was in South Bend for the first time in years, for anyone who watched last year’s epic thriller, this year’s game provides a reminder of how good the Irish were just a year ago and how well Notre Dame is capable of playing. Both teams remember that year’s thriller too and I’m sure that Stanford has revenge on their mind.
Tomorrow’s showdown in Palo Alto is sure to be another physical, bruising contest. Both teams will come out swinging and will keep throwing punches until one of them finally falls. For the first time in 2013, we saw the kind of tough, hard-nossed approached that became customary for Notre Dame in 2012 last weekend against BYU even with an injury depleted lineup.
Can the Irish keep that momentum going this weekend and recapture some of the magic of last years epic goal-line stand? Let’s hope so.