In a contest that’s essentially a play-in game for a continuing chance at the College Football Playoff, both Notre Dame and Stanford are slugging it out like they’re aware of exactly what’s on the line.
Through a quarter and a half of play, the defensive talent was evident on both sides of the ball; the last half-quarter, though, both offenses awoke as the Cardinal has taken a 21-20 lead on the Irish heading into the halftime locker room. Trailing 14-13 and having seen a pair of drives stall inside the Cardinal 10-yard line, the Irish eschewed another red zone opportunity to squander as DeShone Kizer hit Will Fuller on a pretty 73-yard touchdown pass with 2:15 left in the second quarter to give them a 20-14 lead.
The Cardinal, meanwhile, scored on its first two possessions of the game, with both touchdowns coming off the arm of senior quarterback Kevin Hogan. While those first two drives netted 153 yards of offense, the next two totaled all of 24 yards and ended with a pair of punts. The Cardinal’s possession after the late Irish touchdown began at their own 25 and ended with the third Hogan touchdown pass of the half, accounting for the 21-20 halftime score.
The Domers actually had the opportunity to add at least three more points after that, but a Kizer fumble near the Cardinal 20-yard line that was recovered by Stanford wasted another scoring opportunity for the Irish.
C.J. Sanders‘ 93-yard kick return was the Irish’s first score of the game. Justin Yoon kicked a pair of field goals at the end of the drives that petered out in the red zone.
In addition to the three touchdowns, Hogan has thrown for a game-high 180 yards. Heisman candidate Christian McCaffrey totaled 137 all-purpose yards — 55 rushing, 23 receiving, 59 on kick returns.