Weakest links doom Cardinal
It takes a village.
I was too young to remember why Hillary Clinton was so insistent on it taking a village to raise a child, but I remember hearing that quote echoed over and over in my head as I listened to the radio, read the newspaper and watched television news back in the '90s.
Stanford's (3-3) loss at Notre Dame (4-1), a loss not nearly as close as it looked, reminded me of the same principle. If you had told Stanford's coaches on Friday how successful their rushing game would be, or how stout the rush D would be early, or that Tavita Pritchard would complete eight straight fourth-quarter passes, they'd be delighted -- and pretty confident, rightfully, of a victory.
But Stanford fans know as well as anyone that this team has its weaknesses. We just didn't think that Stanford's deficiencies would be exploited this badly, and we just didn't fathom that they would so dramatically wipe away the positives the Cardinal did accomplish at Notre Dame Saturday:
- We knew Jimmy Clausen and his receivers had the edge against the Cardinal secondary. In my gameday preview , I called for 280 Irish passing yards and noted that the secondary might not be able to stay in front of the Irish wideouts. Turns out Stanford might have won had Notre Dame merely passed for 280. The Irish finished with 347 passing yards and three touchdowns on 29-of-40 accuracy, despite shutting down the air attack in the latter quarters. Not a good showing for Stanford's secondary.
- We knew that Tavita Pritchard has had a tough year at quarterback, but no one expected his three first-half interceptions. There's nothing I can add here that hasn't been hashed and rehashed by disgruntled fans dozens of times already, so suffice it to say a football team simply cannot win with that type of quarterbacking for a half, no matter how the quarterback looks in the other half, no matter how the rushing attack looks, no matter anything.
- Call it hard-nosed, call it dirty, call it scrappy. We all knew Stanford was playing with an attitude, with a chip on its shoulder, and Chris Marinelli's comments this past week only reinforced that view. After today's nine penalties, however, we might have to call it plain old undisciplined.
There were genuine positive takeaways from this game. Teams that dominate the line of scrimmage like Stanford did against the Irish will win 80 percent of the time. Both the offensive and defensive lines deserve credit. The Card also continued their strong special teams play, particularly in the punting and return games, and their effective rotation of running backs.
But Stanford was only as strong as its weakest links on Saturday, and Notre Dame exploited the Cardinal through the air, offensively and defensively.
That's my take. Let's see what some other scribes thought about Saturday's final.
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Jimmy Clausen passed for a career-high 347 yards and three touchdowns to lead Notre Dame over Stanford 28-21 today.
Missed opportunities cost the Stanford football team a chance to beat Notre Dame on Saturday.
Stanford notes: Players not surprised by
San Francisco Chronicle
The shake: Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen said he tried to shake hands with Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh after the game with no success.
San Francisco Chronicle
Notre Dame defensive lineman Pat Kuntz said Irish coach Charlie Weis made sure the Irish players were aware of the ...
Stanford rally comes up short
San Francisco Chronicle
After Notre Dame had held off a late Stanford comeback and the dust had settled on the passion-laden game, several elements of Notre Dame's 28-21
Dame holds off Stanford
San Jose Mercury News
A replay showed that Harbaugh had reason to erupt. Wilcox-Fogel never made contact with Allen and the closest player to the returner appeared to be from Notre Dame.
A failure to run out the clock down the stretch made things more interesting than they probably needed to be, but the end result was still an acceptable one.
Angelo Di Carlo
Jimmy Clausen and Notre Dame's improving air attack gashed visiting Stanford for 347 yards passing and three touchdowns Saturday as the Irish held on to beat the Cardinal 28-21 at Notre Dame Stadium.
It is great to get this win and all, but this was the worst quarter of football Notre Dame has played all season. [Ed: See links to first, second and third quarter thoughts at the bottom of the page.]
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