Controversial Call Keeps Notre Dame Undefeated!
#7 Notre Dame welcomed the #17 ranked Stanford Cardinal to South Bend and it was the third team in four weeks that were in the BCS top 25. The Irish broke into the top 10 rankings for the first time since 2006 but faced their most difficult opponent of the season in a long-standing rivalry. This is a series that date backs to 1925 and Stanford has won the last three meetings but Notre Dame holds the all-time lead 17 games to 9. If the Irish hoped to stay undefeated they were going to have to beat a good Cardinal football team.
Notre Dame would strike first with a field goal in the first quarter after intercepting Stanford QB Josh Nunez for the second time. Stanford would score 10 unanswered in the 2nd quarter to take the lead going into halftime. It was the inconsistent play of both Nunez and Irish starting QB Everett Golson that led to such a low score, not stout defensive play. These two inept offenses led to sloppy play and very limited scoring making for an incredibly boring game to watch. Notre Dame would tie the game on the 2nd play of the 4th quarter with Everett Golson under center.
The Cardinal had a chance to get in to the end-zone on the ensuing drive but RB Stepfan Taylor couldn’t punch it in and eventually the team would kick a 27 yard field goal. The Irish would tie the game on their next drive after head coach Brian Kelly pulled Golson in favor of his “closer” quarterback, Tommy Rees. Rees would complete a big pass to WR Tyler Eifert in order to get them in field goal range and would put ND inside the 15 after a pass interference call. Kelly and the Irish offensive coordinator decided that instead of giving Rees a chance to put his team in the lead they ran the ball three times and settled for a field goal.
Sooner or later, if you were watching, you knew the game was going to be determined by either A: a big mistake by one of these quarterbacks or B: one of these defenses would make a big play. It turned out that it was C: one of the teams would lose the game due to a controversial call. After Rees led the Irish to a touchdown during the first possession of overtime the Cardinal tried to answer. Stanford was inside the 5 after two big runs, but once again Stepfan Taylor couldn’t punch it in to the end-zone. Or did he? On 4th and 1 Taylor rushed up the middle and into a pack of Cardinal and Irish players and before his knees were down the referees blew the call dead.
The zebras had determined that Taylor’s forward progress had come to an end and the play was over before he would eventually get the tip of the ball over the goal-line. The play was questionable to say the least, but after further review it seems to me that even if the play wasn’t called dead that Taylor’s elbow hit the ground before the ball crosses the line. The Fightin’ Irish would defeat Stanford 13-20, staying undefeated and keeping their hopes of returning to college football’s promise land alive. Notre Dame welcomes Bringham Young University to South Bend next week before traveling to Oklahoma to face another top 25 opponent in the Sooners. Stanford’s last six games will be against Pac-12 opponents finishing the season on the road against Oregon and UCLA.