The two programs met for seven consecutive seasons from 1988 through 1994 – a series that coincided with the most successful tenure in South Bend (1987-1993) over the last three decades. Stanford managed two victories in that span, ranking as one of only three programs (Miami and Penn State) to notch two wins vs. the Irish from '87 through ‘93
Saturday will be the 25th meeting between the programs with the Irish holding a 17-7 advantage. The two have met continuously since 1997.
1 – National ranking of Stanford's Pass Defense through three games. The Cardinal finished 2009 ranked 110th out of a 120 FBS teams in the same stat. They've since changed defensive coordinators and defensive backfield coaches, adding Vic Fangio and Derek Mason to the respective roles. The Cardinal rank third nationally in Pass Efficiency Defense; sixth in Total Defense; fourth in Red Zone Defense; and are tied for 11th in the nation with 3.67 sacks per contest.
Stanford also boasts the No. 1 ranked Red Zone Offense, scoring on each of their 19 trips inside the opponents' 20-yard line, including 16 touchdowns. As well, Stanford is one of 13 teams that hasn't thrown an interception yet this season. The Cardinal rank third nationally in scoring at an absurd 51.67 points per game.
2 – Wins by the Cardinal over the Irish in back-to-back trips to South Bend during the early 90s. Both were major upsets, the first saw unranked Stanford come back from a 17-point deficit to defeat No. 1 Notre Dame, 36-31. The Irish had a chance to win at the gun, but Rick Mirer's well-thrown pass down the sidelines slipped through the hands of a diving Derrick Brown as time expired.
In 1992, Stanford returned to South Bend under first-year head coach Bill Walsh. Ranked 19th and rating as a far superior squad than in its previous visit, the Cardinal fell behind early, 16-0, then ripped through the No. 7 Irish for 33 consecutive points in the House that Rockne Built, handing the Notre Dame a Week Four loss – its only defeat of the season.
3 – Wins by a ranked Stanford squad over Notre Dame over the last 18 seasons (and in the all-time series). Notre Dame is 0-3 vs. ranked Cardinal squads, losing in 1992, 1997 and 2001. Only the '92 Irish were ranked (No. 7) entering those contests.
4 – Wins by the Cardinal over the Irish in the 1990s. Stanford earned two upsets (above) then took advantage of two .500 level Irish squads in both 1997 and 1999, earning a blowout win in Palo Alto in the first year of the Bob Davie era, then winning again on the return trip, a 40-37 thriller in which the Cardinal defeated Davie under the guidance of future Irish coach Tyrone Willingham.
5 – Consecutive offensive series in which Stanford scored either a touchdown (4) or field goal (1) to conclude last year's contest vs. the Irish. The Cardinal scored on 8 of their 9 game possessions in the 45-38 win to end Notre Dame's 2009 regular season and the Charlie Weis era.
6 – Seasons in the last 15 in which the Irish have dropped at least two decisions in September. In fact, no Notre Dame head coach has escaped his tenure in South Bend without either two losses or a loss and a tie over his first four contests at some point during his Irish coaching career.
7 – Consecutive wins by the Irish over the Cardinal in South Bend. Notre Dame has not lost to Stanford at home since the aforementioned 1992 upset led by Bill Walsh and the NFL talents of John Lynch, Darrien Gordon and Glyn Milburn. Lou Holtz finished 5-2 vs. the Cardinal, gaining a measure of revenge for the '92 defeat with wins in both 1993 and '94.
None of the Irish coaches that followed Holtz lost at home to Stanford, with Bob Davie, Tyrone Willingham and Charlie Weis each owning 2-0 marks vs. the Cardinal in South Bend. Holtz (both at home) and Davie (both in Palo Alto) are the only Irish coaches to drop two contests to the Cardinal.
8 – Contests between the teams to be decided by seven points or less. Stanford has won four such meetings (1990, '99, 2001, and 2009) while the Irish took four close calls in 2000, 2005, 2007 and 2008.
9 – Touchdowns produced by former Irish quarterback Jimmy Clausen vs. the Cardinal in three career starts. Clausen scored one rushing touchdown in a 2007 win; added three TD passes in a 2008 Irish victory; and tossed five touchdowns to Golden Tate and Michael Floyd in last year's 45-38 defeat in Palo Alto.
10 – Seasons in which the Irish have started a season at 1-3 (or 0-3) in the modern era, which dates back to 1919: Hunk Anderson's 1933 Irish began the season 1-1-1. Since the 1956, 1960, 1962, 1985, 1986, 1997, 1999, 2001 (0-3), 2003, and 2007 Irish (0-3) have endured that dubious distinction.
Bob Davie ('97, '99, '01) presided over a program record three such squads. Joe Kuharich ('60 and '62) was the only other Irish coach to lead the team to multiple 1-3 starts. No Irish head coach since Dan Devine (1975-1980) managed to avoid at least one such start to a season. Devine began 0-2 in 1978. Ara Parseghian's worst start as the Notre Dame head man was 2-2 in 1967.
11 – Seasons in which the Irish defeated Stanford and proceeded to finish in the final A.P. Poll (1942, 1964, 1988, 89, 91, 93, 98, 2000, 02, 05, and 06). During the seven seasons in which Stanford has defeated the Irish, the Cardinal placed in the final writer's poll just twice (1992 and 2001). The 1992 season represents the Cardinal's only Top 10 finish of the last 30 years.
12 – Losses by the Irish over the team's last 16 total defeats that have been determined by seven points or fewer. The figure includes the program's eight most recent defeats.
Bonus Stat: 0 – Occasions in which the Stanford program has consecutively defeated the Irish. Stanford's seven wins vs. Notre Dame have never occurred in back-to-back matchups/seasons.
On the HorizonIrish players that could reasonably accomplish statistical milestones Saturday vs. the Cardinal:
Armando Allen: Last Saturday, Allen secured six Dayne Crist passes to break Darius Walker's program record for receptions by a running back with 110. Walker caught 109 passes in 36 games/three seasons (2004-06); Allen broke Walker's mark in his 36th career contest.
On his first reception vs. the Spartans, Allen passed Nick Eddy (1964-66) for sixth-place on the program's list for receiving yards at the position. Allen can surpass Walker for fourth on that list with 43 receiving yards vs. the Cardinal.
Kyle Rudolph: Needs 103 receiving yards to pass current Seattle Seahawks tight end John Carlson (2004-2007) for third-place on the programs career yardage list at the position. Rudolph has averaged 95.7 receiving yards over the first three contests to rank first among the nation's tight ends. With a career-best 10 receptions, Rudolph would pass current Miami Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano (2003-05) for third on the program's career list among tight ends. Rudolph set a personal-best with eight receptions two weeks ago vs. Michigan in South Bend.
Michael Floyd: Needs two touchdowns to pass Tom Gatewood (1969-71) for 5th place on the program's career touchdown receptions list. Gatewood caught 19 TD over a three-year span. Floyd broke a two-game touchdown drought – tied for the longest of his career – last week with a two TD effort vs. the Spartans. With 17 receiving yards, Floyd will surpass former tight end Ken MacAfee (1,759 yards from 1974-77) for 9th on the program's yardage list.