J.J. Arcega-Whiteside

Associated Press

No. 21 Stanford beats No. 8 Notre Dame, advances to Pac-12 Championship

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A trio of fourth quarter touchdowns turned an already good night into a great one for Stanford, as the No. 21 Cardinal blew past No. 8 Notre Dame 38-20 to claim Stanford’s third straight win and seventh in the last nine meetings of private school powers.

Meanwhile in Seattle, No. 17 Washington’s blowout of No. 13 Washington State handed Stanford its fourth Pac-12 North championship and sent the Cardinal into a Pac-12 Championship rematch with No. 11 USC on Friday in Santa Clara.

Stanford entered the fourth quarter trailing 20-17, but a 19-yard pass from K.J. Costello to Kaden Smith handed the Cardinal the lead with 13:46 to play. Curtis Robinson intercepted Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush inside Irish territory on the first play of the ensuing possession, and Costello’s fourth touchdown pass, this one a 12-yarder to Dalton Schultz gave Stanford control of the game with 12:21 remaining.

Disaster struck Notre Dame again after C.J. Sanders fumbled the ensuing kickoff at his own 18-yard line, and Jordan Scarlett put the game away for Stanford with a 3-yard touchdown plunge with 10:10 remaining.

A Wimbush interception inside the Stanford end zone ended any hopes of a last-gasp comeback.

Notre Dame opened the scoring with an 83-yard snatch-and-dash connection from Wimbush to Kevin Stepherson, handing the Irish a 7-0 lead at the 3:40 mark of the first quarter. Stanford pulled even on the next drive, knifing 72 yards in five plays, the last 29 on a Trenton Irwin pass from Costello.

The Cardinal forced a three-and-out on Notre Dame’s next possession, then took the lead with a 6-play, 55-yard march, mostly on Costello’s arm. He hit J.J. Arcega-Whiteside to give Stanford a 14-7 lead with 11:29 left in the first half.

Notre Dame cut into the deficit with a 38-yard Justin Yoon field goal with 2:36 left in the half. The Irish grabbed their second lead of the night with another long throw, this one a 75-yard toss from Wimbush to Equanimeous St. Brown. After Stanford tied the game with a 24-yard Jet Toner field goal, Yoon nudged Notre Dame back in front for its final lead of the night with a 38-yard boot at the 1:23 mark of the third quarter.

Wimbush finished the night hitting hitting 11-of-27 passes for 249 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, with two throws accounting for 158 yards and the other 25 going for 91.

Though his numbers did not pop off the page, Bryce Love was perhaps Stanford’s MVP with a game-high 20 carries for 125 yards. Playing on a high ankle sprain, Love’s 20 totes were sprinkled in between hobbles to and from the Stanford sideline; Love would carry the ball, wait for the pain to subside and then run back on the field to carry the ball again and again and again.

While Stanford (9-3) will prepare for its rematch with the Trojans — USC won the first meeting, 42-24 Sept. 9 in Los Angeles — Notre Dame (9-3) will look to hold on its New Year’s Six bowl positioning.

Stanford leading Notre Dame in what could be a great night for the Cardinal

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Here’s the good news for No. 21 Stanford: the Cardinal carries a 14-10 lead over No. 8 Notre Dame at the half in Palo Alto. Here’s the better news: No. 17 Washington leads No. 13 Washington State at the half in Seattle, where a Huskies victory would hand Stanford the Pac-12 North championship and send the club to the Pac-12 Championship opposite No. 11 USC next week.

Notre Dame opened the scoring with an 83-yard snatch-and-dash connection from Brandon Wimbush to Kevin Stepherson, handing the Irish a 7-0 lead at the 3:40 mark of the first quarter. Stanford pulled even on the next drive, knifing 72 yards in five plays, the last 29 on a Trenton Irwin pass from K.J. Costello.

The Cardinal forced a three-and-out on Notre Dame’s next possession, then took the lead with a 6-play, 55-yard march, mostly on Costello’s arm. He hit J.J. Arcega-Whiteside to give Stanford a 14-7 lead with 11:29 left in the first half.

Notre Dame cut into the deficit with a 38-yard Justin Yoon field goal with 2:36 left in the half.

Bryce Love has been mostly quiet in playing through a high ankle sprain; he’s rushed 10 times for 31 yards to this point. Costello closed the half connecting on 9-of-14 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

Wimbush has hit 7-of-14 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown and leads the team with 37 yards on seven carries. Josh Adams has rushed 12 times for 27 yards.

Jackrabbit invades field, Bryce Love invades end zone as Stanford leads Oregon at half

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Things got weird as the sun set on the Bay Area on Friday and Cal pulled off the upset of No. 8 Washington State on Friday night. A day later and much further South, things were equally strange even if the ranked team didn’t look like it was quite on upset alert.

No. 23 Stanford wound up with a 28-7 lead into halftime over Oregon down on the Farm, but the locale lived up to its nickname in Palo Alto as a jackrabbit found its way onto the field late in the first quarter in one of those incredible moments that could only happen late into the night out West:

In actual game action though, Cardinal running back Bryce Love was once again adding to his Heisman highlight reel by ripping off a 67-yard touchdown run early on and finishing the half with 142 yards and a total of two scores. Wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside added another score through the air as Stanford’s normally hectic offense seemed to do what it pleased against the Ducks.

That also included special teams, as Brandon Simmons scooped and scored off a punt block in the second quarter.

The lopsided score was a little surprising considering how well Oregon ran the ball in the half. Royce Freeman wound up with 121 yards on just 12 carries and three others managed at least 25 on the ground too. The flip side was backup quarterback Braxton Burmeister managed just one completion for four yards.

Things figure to get even tougher for the young signal-caller as Stanford gets back two of its best defenders for the second half in Harrison Phillips and Peter Kalambayi after each returns from a targeting penalty from their last game.

Thrilling comeback gives No. 7 Stanford a wild win over UCLA

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Death. Taxes. Stanford over UCLA.

Cardinal head coach David Shaw ran his record to a perfect 7-0 against the Bruins in thrilling fashion on Saturday night thanks to a 22-13 comeback victory at the Rose Bowl.

Trailing 13-9 with just two minutes left in the game, the Cardinal marched 70 yards in 101 seconds to take an improbable lead after failing to score a touchdown until their final drive.

Quarterback Ryan Burns was behind most of the yardage on what would be the game-winning drive, going 5-of-8 to finish off the Bruins by lofting a perfectly thrown fade into the hands of 6-foot-3 receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside near the corner of the end zone. Burns finished with just 137 yards through the air on the night and tossed an interception in a middling performance but came up clutch for the first moment of his career.

Heisman Trophy candidate Christian McCaffrey had an unusually effective but quiet night a few months after setting a few records at the same venue in January. He had a healthy 5.3 yards per carry for the game and led the team with  165 all-purpose yards but only had one play over 10 yards all night.

UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen on the other hand, was the offense for the Bruins considering they could only muster 2.3 yards a carry on the ground. The sophomore signal-caller finished with 248 yards and a touchdown but couldn’t quite pull off the win over the one team that has become a bit of a nemesis to Jim Mora and company in Westwood.

Perhaps fittingly — as if to almost twist the knife into another excruciating loss to their Bay Area rivals — Rosen was sacked on the final play of the game and fumbled, which was then returned by linebacker Joey Alfieri for a touchdown that was of plenty of interest to certain folks up the highway in Las Vegas.

The improbable victory for Stanford keeps alive their College Football Playoff hopes for another week and sets up a huge showdown next Friday at Washington in what looks like the Pac-12 game of the year.