At First Glance...

Our weekly post-game review of Notre Dame's key players and plays, notable numbers and quotes, and the game's crucial turning points during Saturday's season-ending defeat at Stanford.

Offensive MVP

Michael Floyd – The senior added to his legacy with his 36th touchdown catch (tied for 17th in BCS history) and surpassed former teammate Golden Tate for the single-season school record, 95 pass receptions. Floyd finished the contest with eight catches for 92 yards, securing the team's only meaningful touchdown early in the third quarter.

Defensive MVP

Darius Fleming – Secured the boundary edge with five tackles including one for loss and another for no gain. Fleming added a scrimmage interception following a sack by safety Harrison Smith, one he returned 34 yards to the Stanford 26-yard line.

Additional Game Balls

Few and far between Saturday evening, though a trio of Irishmen gave the team a spark during the course of the contest.

  • Quarterback Andrew Hendrix: Completed 11 of 24 passes with a touchdown and an interception and rushed for 53 more (20 net) with a cosmetic end-game score. Both of Hendrix's touchdowns marked the first of his Irish career (pass and rush), so too was his fourth quarter interception. Notre Dame recorded 12 plays of 15 yards or more; Hendrix had a hand in nine of them.

  • Safety Harrison Smith: Finished with just four tackles but also forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, broke up a pass, and recorded a QB hurry/hit that resulted in an interception for teammate Darius Fleming.

  • Defensive end Aaron Lynch: Stanford enjoyed intermittent success rushing over his edge, but the freshman pass-rusher competed, recording six tackles including one for loss with a QB hit/hurry. Lynch was involved in six plays (either securing the edge/gap or making the stop) that resulted in no gain or short loss for the Cardinal.

  • Nose Guard Louis Nix: Totaled four stops, 1.5 for lost yardage with another at the line of scrimmage.

Quotes to Note

  • Senior and team captain Harrison Smith on being emotionally prepared: "There's no doubt (they were prepared). I don't know why we didn't start out fast."

  • Smith on ending the season 8-4: "It's not what Notre Dame should be. It's not what we expected. It is what it is."

  • Head coach Brian Kelly on the change to Andrew Hendrix: "We're just trying to win games. We're just trying to find ways to win and move the ball. We have to evaluate the guys that'll give us a chance to win and Hendrix gave us a good chance today."

  • Kelly on Rees' injury: "I think he got hit a couple of times but he was okay…College football, quarterback's going to get hit a couple of times. But he was not in a situation where he could not come back in and play the game."

  • Kelly on Hendrix, rather than purported No. 2 quarterback Dayne Crist, relieving Rees after his starter was injured on the first series. Was that "the plan"?

    "No. That wasn't the plan."

  • Kelly on the bad start: "When you finish this whole analysis, we got off to a bad start, we battled our butts off, but against a good football team, that's not good enough."

Turning Point

Notre Dame had a chance to tie Stanford at seven midway through the second quarter but for the ninth time this season, came away empty in the red zone.

After Harrison Smith's pressure resulted in an Andrew Luck turnover and Irish possession at the Cardinal 11-yard line, Notre Dame was unable to breech the host's end zone – a third down Tommy Rees pass falling behind an open Theo Riddick in the flat.

Forced to settle for a field goal, head coach Brian Kelly turned to former Lou Groza finalist David Ruffer. The 5th-year senior pushed a 29-yard chip-shot outside the right upright – a sure three points lost. Stanford responded with a 10 play, 80-yard drive and 28-yard touchdown catch and carry (of defender Robert Blanton) by tight end Coby Fleener.

Two series later, a Rees interception gave Stanford the ball with 1:38 remaining and the Cardinal capitalized, marching 64 yards in 10 plays for another passing score and decisive 21-0 halftime lead.

Numbers and Names of Note

  • Notre Dame has held ten teams (including Stanford by a slim margin Saturday night) below their rushing norms this season (Air Force and USC the exceptions) and did the same in eight of the final nine games last season, beginning with Stanford in Week Four…

  • Taylor Dever became Notre Dame's second repeat game day captain this season. Dever also joined team captain Harrison Smith for the Pittsburgh contest…

  • Stanford's first series resulted in just its 10th three-and-out this season; its second nearly occurred after Hendrix airmailed an interception as the Irish defense responded with a four-and-out to force a 48-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide left…

  • Tyler Eifert became the 5th Notre Dame tight end to exceed 1,000 receiving yards in his career, joining Ken MacAfee, Anthony Fasano, John Carlson, and former teammate Kyle Rudolph. In the second half, Eifert's square-in catch of 14 yards from Andrew Hendrix was his 55th grab of the season, breaking the program record for a tight end set by Ken MacAfee in 1977…

  • Notre Dame managed just 15 rushing yards on 14 carries in the first half. They were out-gained 287-75. They finished with a season-low 57 yards on 31 carries and averaged a season-worst 1.8 yards per rush; the 2010 Irish recorded a similar output in last year's 23-point loss to Stanford, rushing 23 times for just 44 yards…

  • The teams combined for 21 penalties (11 for Stanford); five of Notre Dame's 10 penalties occurred prior to the snap including three first quarter false starts…

  • Stanford's offense was the 11th of 12 Notre Dame opponents this season to be shut out by the Irish defense in the 3rd Quarter. Only Pittsburgh's offense (Week Four) touched Bob Diaco's unit for 3rd Quarter points….

  • Andrew Luck joined Purdue's Mike Phipps (1967-69) and USC's Matt Leinart (2003-05) to earn three consecutive wins over Notre Dame…

  • Notre Dame has not defeated a Top 10 team since November 2004, a 17-13 win at Tennessee. It hasn't defeated a team that finished in the Top 10 since 2002, beating eventual No. 7 Michigan, 25-23…

  • With the loss, Brian Kelly fell to 2-3 vs. ranked teams in 25 games leading the Irish. The loss broke Notre Dame's four-game winning streak – the third such streak of the Kelly era – and Kelly's six-game November winning streak in South Bend. Top Stories