3Q: Last score wins (ND 29-28)

"We'll see if the Card come out throwing, which I think they need to if they're going to keep pace with this Irish attack, because sooner or later, Notre Dame is going to find a way to punch it in." Stanford spread out the Irish, stayed creative, and is knocking on the door to retake the lead as the third quarter draws to a close.

Oklahoma 21, Oklahoma State 10, second quarter, not good, though the Pokes are driving. If the Sooners win, that's two playoff spots wrapped up, as the Big 10 champion will be in. Meanwhile, Florida State is beating Florida 10-0 at the half at least, so the Stanford-Notre Dame winner will have two outs: Root for either Clemson or Alabama to lose their conference championship game, and hope the committee does give today's winner the resulting slot.

Stanford 21, Notre Dame 20, start third quarter

Maybe Stanford goes hurry-up all the time and matches fire with fire. With Hogan 12-of-15 for three touchdowns and 180 yards, hard to argue we shouldn't be slinging it around a little more. Hopefully our defense will be the better rested unit, if nothing else.

Shaw says at the half what we wrote here -- namely that that two-minute drive opened up the offense and he wants to see more big plays in the second half. Music to my ears.

Irish from their 15 thanks to a nice Brandon Simmons tackle, and DeShone Kizer runs for four before a screen goes for first-down yardage. Kizer with a 22-yard bomb to a back who had the slower Kevin Palma in coverage on a wheel route. Schematic advantage, Irish. Nine-yard slant well covered, but right on the money, and Kizer has had pinpoint accuracy all day. He runs to moves the chains yet again before his first misfire of the day on a bomb to Torii Hunter. From the Card 33, Irish run for 18, and yet again, the Irish have marched from 20 to 20 without fail.

Red-zone time and Irish run for four on first down and then Amir Carlisle, onetime Stanford recruit, drops a sure first down and possible touchdown on a checkdown. Kizer had all day on that throw -- probably the longest any opponent has had in the pocket all year. Kizer throws third down out the back of the end zone, and at least for another series, bend but don't break does the trick.

Would be great for kicker Justin Yoon to miss (and, hey, we won the Pac-12 North only because of our "field goal defense"), but he's now 3-of-3 and the Irish retake the lead after an 11-play, 73-yard drive taking 3:57.

Notre Dame 23, Stanford 21, 11:03 remaining, third quarter

Kizer alone has run for 99 yards on nine carries, and Fuller has five catches for 122 yards, including the 73-yard touchdown bomb. Christian McCaffrey has 55 rushing and 23 receiving yards, so a more modest day for him, certainly to be expected against a top-ten defense that has loaded the box. We'll see if the Card come out throwing, which I think they need to if they're going to keep pace with this Irish attack, because sooner or later, Notre Dame is going to find a way to punch it in. Devon Cajuste with 56 receiving yards, and Michael Rector with 45 to pace the aerial attack.

McCaffrey runs for six, but that looks to be coming back -- no, wait, personal foul facemask tacks on another 15. Card have just one penalty all day, the Scarlett offsides, while Notre Dame now at three for 20. We're back out four wide and Remound Wright runs for three. McCaffrey takes out a blitzing linebacker on second down, but there goes Hogan's hot read, so Hogan does well to escape a sack and scramble out of bounds for no loss. Then, Stanford takes advantage of a blown coverage, with Devon Cajuste blowing by Elijah Shumate and Hogan bombing to him for 42. Hogan scrambles for seven on first and goal at the 10, but the officials call a fumble -- and this will be the third call today that the Pac-12 replay officials overturn from the ACC officials. And yet again the Cardinal benefit from replay oversight, so maybe there is something to the long-held idea that the Irish get the calls. McCaffrey on a second-down toss to the half-yard line. Now, in comes Remound Wright and the big-boy set, and it was a late whistle and it didn't cross the goal line by much, but sure enough, it is yet another touchdown for the Touchdown Vulture.

Stanford 28, Notre Dame 23, 6:58 remaining, third quarter

Great job by the offensive coaches to make the needed halftime adjustment and go to some four-wide formations to get us a little running room -- and then call up the deep bomb that Hogan connected on. Hard for us to have a more efficient offensive day than our 28 points on six drives so far, and with our defense hemorrhaging yards left and right, it's not like the O has been working with a short field. We're set up for another classic where last score wins, but with a defensive stop here, maybe we can establish some breathing room.

Instead, the Irish pick up where they left off, running off right tackle for 10 from their 14. But Kizer bounce-passes first down to an open man, and maybe the defense can bring some pressure if they get into obvious passing downs. Nope: 9.8-yard run with the Irish stealing from the Stanford playbook and running behind a pulling guard. So third and inches for the Irish, one of very few third downs their defense has faced, and Kizer sneaks for four, move the chains again.

And then, the backbreaker. Josh Adams takes a counter run going right, and finishes his 62-yard effort in the back of the end zone untouched. Joey Alfieri had a chance to hold Notre Dame to 15 yards, but couldn't keep up with Adams' speed, and the Irish back ran out of what looked to be a good angle for the defense. Irish go for two, which might be as important as the actual touchdown, and Kizer throws away out the right end zone sideline, with Stanford providing good coverage everywhere.

Notre Dame 29, Stanford 28, 5:24 remaining, third quarter

McCaffrey for five, then a fake to McCaffrey and Hogan keeps for eight. Then some razzle-dazzle that gives Stanford only four yards: a quick throw behind the line to McCaffrey, who pitches to Love sprinting in the other direction. McCaffrey keeps for five, just escaping from an unblocked Sheldon Day, and maybe the offense is starting to find a bit more room running the rock. Third down, and Wright runs behind a pulling Brendan Austin for four.

Devon Cajuste can't quite hang onto a Hogan bomb off his fingertips, but the Cardinal catch a break with a weak pass interference call going against the Irish and a fresh set of downs at the Irish 32. Wildcat for one, and then Bryce Love taking a reverse off a McCaffrey pitch, and this one has the Irish fooled, with Love advancing for 21 to the Irish 12. Hogan keeps for one and that's how the third quarter will end -- with a one-point Irish lead, but the Cardinal knocking on the door.

Last score wins.

Notre Dame 29, Stanford 28, end third quarter

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