Whatever shot Stanford had to make the 2012 BCS title game ended on the goal line at Notre Dame Stadium in mid-October of last fall.
The Irish defensive line stuffed Stanford on four-straight run plays from inside the four-yard line — the last one thanks to a controversial call by the refs — to secure a 20-13 overtime victory. Notre Dame would go on to an undefeated regular season and a berth in the BCS title game against Alabama.
The No. 8 Cardinal (9-2) have a chance to avenge that loss on Saturday when it hosts the No. 25 Irish (8-3) at Stanford Stadium.
This year’s game should look a lot like last year’s: Two physical teams playing smash mouth football and doing just enough in the air to keep the other honest. But this year the overall edge has to go to the Cardinal. Sophomore quarterback Kevin Hogan has had a solid season with 2,057 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions and the Stanford run game has been tough to stop thanks to Tyler Gaffney’s 1,304 yards and 16 scores. Stanford doesn’t do anything fancy. It lines up its massive offensive line — sometimes using two or three extra linemen — and runs right at you. The Cardinal defense is among the best in the country, so Notre Dame’s offense is going to be challenged.
For the Irish to win, they’ll need a big game from senior quarterback Tommy Reese, who has 25 touchdown passes and 2,739 passing yards so far this season. The Notre Dame ground game has been inconsistent but Cam McDaniel (607 yards) is coming off a 117-yard effort against BYU. It will be up to the Irish defense to come up with another stout effort. They’ll have to do it without the services of massive nose guard Louis Nix, who is out for the rest of the season after having knee surgery last week.
Notre Dame has already beaten USC and Arizona State this year. It can complete its Pac-12 trifecta with an upset of Stanford. Regardless, the Irish are probably headed to the Pinstripe Bowl.
As for Stanford, it is slated for the Pac-12 title game and losing to the Irish won’t affect that. But that aforementioned revenge factor from last year still exists for a large group of Stanford seniors who will be playing their last regular season game. Plus, the Cardinal can notch its fourth-straight season of 10 wins or more with a victory over Notre Dame.
So there’s still plenty to play for.
The third edition of the College Football Playoff rankings were unveiled Tuesday night and the top ten remained exactly the same from a week ago. Such a holding pattern was expected after the entire top 10 won a week ago.
It is the first time in the history of the CFP rankings the top 10 has remained the same from one week to the next.
Most notably, Oklahoma did not fall from No. 6 after being pushed to the limit by 5-4 Oklahoma State at home.
Kentucky was the highest-ranked team to lose, a 24-7 loss at Tennessee, and the Cats fell from No. 11 to No. 17.
UCF moved up to No. 11 and Syracuse to No. 12 ahead of their showdown with the Irish. UCF’s No. 11 ranking is the highest a Group of 5 team has ever appeared in 28 sets of CFP rankings.
Mississippi State remained the highest-ranked 4-loss team, edging out Northwestern at No. 21. Utah State, Cincinnati and Boise State joined the rankings in the final three spots.
3. Notre Dame
8. Washington State
9. West Virginia
10. Ohio State
14. Penn State
16. Iowa State
20. Boston College
21. Mississippi State
23. Utah State
25. Boise State
The two major rule changes in college football over the past decade have combined into one on the Oregon wide receiver depth chart.
Oregon wide receiver Tabari Hines, who arrived in Eugene by way of a graduate transfer out of Wake Forest, has announced he will take this season as a redshirt year and pursue a second graduate transfer elsewhere.
“Tabari Hines is not on roster right now,” Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal told The Oregonian. “He is on the transfer portal. He will use this year to redshirt and transfer out.”
A native of Florence, S.C., Hines signed with Wake Forest as an early enrollee and caught 32 passes for 366 yards, a school record for a true freshman. Hines’s production increased from there, catching 38 balls as a sophomore and 53 as a junior — the most on the team.
However, Hines decided to try his luck elsewhere and left for Oregon, but has caught only three passes for 32 yards and one touchdown, all of them in a 62-14 win over Portland State in September. He has appeared in three games, none since Pac-12 play began.
Given that, Hines will use the new redshirt rule to take a mulligan and now find a third school to play for — or perhaps he realizes the grass wasn’t really greener and returns to Wake Forest.
Virginia Tech’s embattled defense has taken yet another hit.
Justin Fuente confirmed Monday Houshun Gaines will miss the remainder of Virginia Tech’s 2018 season because of a knee injury. Defensive coordinator Bud Foster had previously stated that the defensive end had suffered a torn ACL.
Gaines suffered the injury in Saturday’s blowout loss to Pitt.
“House plays extremely hard and will be missed, but he’ll be very quickly on the road to recovery and we look forward to having him out there next year,” the head coach said by way of the Roanoke Times.
The redshirt junior currently leads the Hokies in sacks with 4½, while his five tackles for loss are tied for fourth.
Last September, Kasim Hill‘s season came to a premature end thanks to a torn ACL in his right knee. During Saturday’s loss to Indiana, Hill suffered what appeared to be a significant injury to his other knee.
In fact, in an Instagram post Monday, the Maryland starting quarterback intimated that it was yet another torn ACL as he alluded to “attacking the process all over again.”
Tuesday, acting head coach Matt Canada confirmed that Hill had indeed suffered another torn ACL. Obviously, the sophomore’s season has come to an end.
Hill had started all 10 games under center for the Terrapins this season. He completed under 50 percent of his 170 passes for nine touchdowns and four interceptions. His passing efficiency rating of 115.7 is 10th in the Big Ten and 100th nationally.
Sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome is expected to take over for Hill as the Terps’ starting quarterback.