In an overtime game that saw plenty of drama, the end came down to Notre Dame's front seven making a play when the Irish needed it most. And they made it.
Certainly there will be much to talk about in the coming week, as Everett Golson had his ups and downs, ultimately giving way to Tommy Rees, who got the Irish in position to win...again. Tyler Eifert got involved in the game again, and although the Irish could not get clicking, they did enough to win the ballgame over Stanford.
However, the story of this ballgame is the front seven. Bob Diaco, the defensive coordinator, had his unit ready to play ball. Sure, they gave up some plays to the Stanford offense. Stepfan Taylor, the Cardinal's stud running back, went for 102 yards. But the running back came up just a little short in the grand scheme of things.
Folks are going to piss and moan over the final call, as the Cardinal tried to get into the end zone to tie the game up in overtime. Let them be upset. The Fighting Irish stoned Taylor at the goal line, and while he made a second and third effort that got him across the line, the effort came at a futile moment.
Notre Dame's front seven had stopped his forward progress and had already ended the game as he reached helplessly for the end zone.
Perhaps it's the defensive guy in me. Perhaps it's growing weary of seeing offensive players given second, third, fourth and fifth tries when it comes to getting into the end zone. Either way, the fact of the matter is the officials made their call; they denied the Cardinal running back the touchdown as he tried, after being stopped, to get into the end zone.
That's what matters—the final call. As Taylor reached for the end zone the Irish were already celebrating their big win. The gun had sounded, and the game was over. The front seven had done their job on that play, as they had all game. Guys like Stephon Tuitt, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Louis Nix III, Manti Te'o, Carlo Calabrese and the rest had bowed their necks and made it work.
Stanford is a physical team, and Notre Dame matched its physicality play for play. Plenty of folks will bemoan the play due to its controversial nature. For the Irish, that play is done, and next up for them is BYU, a team that is struggling offensively and looking to get back on the winning track after losing to Oregon State. That's where eyes need to turn.
With the BCS rankings coming out this weekend, Notre Dame will see where it stands. The Irish will also have more weight added to their shoulders as the stakes get higher and the pressure builds. Luckily for Notre Dame, a team with plenty of questions on the offensive side, it seems its defensive front seven has a few answers.
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