Stanford (4-2) scored 17 straight points and pitched a shutout in the second half to stun Notre Dame (2-5) in Notre Dame Stadium, winning by a score of 17-10. It was a night that was led by the Stanford defense, which came up with nine points and had to be won by the Cardinal without Christian McCaffrey, who was out of action with an injury nagging from last week.
Stanford took its first lead of the game in the fourth quarter on a bizarre sequence at the end of an 11-play drive. Stanford running back Bryce Love (129 yards) rumbled toward the goal line but fumbled the football into the endzone. After a scrum, Stanford was awarded the go-ahead touchdown when it was determined Jesse Burkett recovered the fumble.
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly pulled his starting quarterback, DeShone Kizer, from the game early in the second half after tossing two interceptions on Notre Dame’s first two possessions of the second half, despite still leading at the time. The first interception was returned for a Stanford touchdown by Quenton Meeks from midfield. Kizer’s second interception came at the end of a 10-play drive on fourth down from the Stanford 38-yard line. Dallas Lloyd returned the interception to the Notre Dame 47-yard line, but the Cardinal would turn the ball right back over to the Irish when Ryan Burns fumbled the football while being sacked by Jonathan Jones. Jamir Jones jumped on the loose ball for the Irish.
Replacing Kizer was Malik Zaire, who showed some signs of bench rust in his first series. Zaire failed to complete either of the two pass attempts he passed, and he picked up just three rushing yards on three rushing attempts. There was certainly no spark there for Notre Dame. Eventually, Kizer returned to the field to lead the offense, and he led the Irish to a late offensive scoring threat with the game on the line.
Former Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen was firing off some fire about the decision to pull Kizer on Twitter, suggesting Kizer should strongly consider leaving Notre Dame for the NFL Draft next season if Kelly doesn’t trust him.
Apparently, Kelly had a bit of an outburst on the field after the game, as Notre Dame’s final drive was ended on a fourth down attempt for a game-ending turnover on downs.
Notre Dame will get a week off to regroup and figure some things out with their offense. The next time Notre Dame takes the field will be in two weeks back in Notre Dame Stadium when the Miami Hurricanes travel to South Bend. The Hurricanes cracked the top 10 in the polls this season but have now lost two straight game sin ACC play, to Florida State and North Carolina. Miami does play next week, with a Thursday night road trip to Virginia Tech.
Stanford will look to pick up a much-needed win in Pac-12 play next week when they host the surprising Colorado Buffaloes next Saturday in Palo Alto.