Notre Dame and Stanford battled for four quarters and one overtime on Saturday before the Fighting Irish were finally able to grab the 20-13 victory.
After Tommy Rees hit T.J. Jones for the go-ahead score in overtime, the Cardinal had the chance to knot the score at 20-all on the next possession.
Stanford was able to get inside the 5-yard line, but Stepfan Taylor couldn't break the plane to tie the score. His fourth-down run was reviewed, but there was no conclusive evidence to rule that he broke the plane.
Here, you be the judge:
Notre Dame's defense made a triumphant stand to hand its team the victory.
Both teams played sloppily on offense for most of the game, but no one can doubt the toughness displayed by each side. It had the feel of a major rivalry, and each defense brought its A-game.
No one scored until Kyle Brindza's 29-yard field goal gave the Fighting Irish a 3-0 lead with 36 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Stanford bounced back with 10 straight points, including Chase Thomas' fumble recovery in the end zone after Ben Gardner stripped Everett Golson.
At the half, the Cardinal led 10-3 despite Josh Nunes' two interceptions and meager offensive production overall.
Nothing changed in the second half. Neither squad scored in the third quarter at all, continuing the defensive battle.
Notre Dame tied the game at 10 apiece with Tyler Eifert's 24-yard touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter:
Both teams struggled to break through for the rest of the fourth quarter, but Stanford's inability to capitalize in the red zone wound up killing its hopes for victory.
Stanford couldn't score a touchdown about halfway through the final frame, so Jordan Williamson kicked a 27-yard field goal with just over six minutes left.
That allowed Brindza to tie the game with another field goal with 20 seconds to play.
This game was exactly as expected. Two blue-collar teams did battle, and it wasn't always pretty. In the end, Notre Dame earned another huge win.
Let's recap this one with some Twitter reaction, player grades and a Player of the Game award.
After Notre Dame's second interception of the first half, CBS' Bruce Feldman reported this interesting tidbit:
Bad pass by Nunes. Another Notre Dame INT. Irish now have 15 takeaways this year. Had only 14 in all of 2011.— Bruce Feldman (@BFeldmanCBS) October 13, 2012
Chicago Tribune reporter Brian Hamilton gave us the first-quarter score but added a little extra:
We're through one quarter at #NotreDame Stadium. Irish 3, Stanford 0, Shawn Hochuli verbose explanations 1.— Brian Hamilton (@ChiTribHamilton) October 13, 2012
For those who aren't aware, referee Shawn Hochuli's father Ed is known for his lengthy explanations of every call at the NFL level. I've actually fallen asleep at one point.
How good is Manti Te'o? We already know the answer there, but John Heisler, Notre Dame's senior associate athletics director for media and broadcast relations, shows us how good he was in the first half of Saturday's game:
Notre Dame LB Manti Te'o had 9 tackles in 1st half -- no one else on either team had more than 5.— John Heisler (@NDHeisler) October 13, 2012
NBC Sports reporter Liam McHugh offered some interesting insight into Tyler Eifert following his incredible 24-yard touchdown grab to knot the game at 10:
Brian Kelly told me Tyler Eifert didn't return to Notre Dame to pad his stats, he came back to win games. That was a winning play.— Liam McHugh (@liam_mchugh) October 13, 2012
Sports Illustrated writer Stewart Mandel summed up the game flawlessly:
Notre Dame's defense is unreal. Still hasn't allowed a touchdown since Week 2, capped by a goal line stand in overtime.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) October 13, 2012
Everett Golson: C-
Golson's first-half fumble was critical, and he's simply not making enough plays. Finishing 12-of-24 passing for 141 yards barely suffices for a No. 1 quarterback.
Golson still makes poor decisions on when to tuck it and run, oftentimes holding the Notre Dame attack back.
He was lifted from the game in the fourth quarter after a blow to the head.
Tommy Rees: A
Rees proved himself once again, going 4-of-4 late in the game. He also tossed the game-winning score to T.J. Jones.
Rees is this team's closer, using his veteran leadership to come up huge late in games.
Manti Te'o: A+
Te'o was an animal, once again, on Saturday. He finished the game with 11 tackles, using his fierce tackling skills and impressive instincts to disrupt the Cardinal offense.
If a defensive player is worthy of the Heisman Trophy, it's Te'o. He's as important to his team as anyone, and he proved that once again.
Tyler Eifert: B+
I can't give Eifert an A because he didn't catch that many passes (four), but that doesn't diminish his touchdown grab. The Fighting Irish needed a play, and he delivered.
Notre Dame should be using its playmaking tight end much more than it does.
Josh Nunes: D
Nunes completed less than 50 percent of his passes and tossed two interceptions. Notre Dame's defense is a stiff challenge for anyone, and Nunes struggled mightily for most of the game.
Stepfan Taylor: B+
Taylor continues to be one of the most underrated running backs in the nation, turning in a 102-yard performance on Saturday. Notre Dame's defense minimized his big runs, but he was able to grind a productive day out of it anyway.
Without Taylor's tough, downhill running, Nunes would have struggled even more than he did.
Player of the Game: Manti Te'o
Te'o, even when he's not making tackles, has an influence on Notre Dame's defense.
He's the team's unquestioned leader, and that shines through on nearly every play. His veteran qualities are the spine of Notre Dame's excellent defense, making everyone around him play at a higher level.
Enough can't be said about the Irish's linebacker at this point. Every week, he's turning in massive performances. He's the most visible player on one of the nation's best defenses, and he played that way again on Saturday.
Notre Dame will welcome Brigham Young to South Bend next week, while Stanford travels to play California.
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