I always enjoy the "On This Date" feature that newspapers run as filler, not unlike the birthday cards that tell you how much a gallon of gas cost and what song topped the Billboard charts among other trivial knowledge in the year you were born. Stanford’s 33-16 victory at Notre Dame Stadium on October 3, 1992, probably doesn’t make any such list. Heck, the Cardinal’s last win in South Bend wasn’t even the day’s biggest news in the Catholic community. That distinction belongs to Sinead O’Connor.
(If you guessed "2" as the number of posts I'd publish before mentioning Sinead O’Connor, well, nothing—and no one—compares to you. It should be the last time, so enjoy.) The Irish singer with the shaved dome sparked an outrage when she produced a photograph of Pope John Paul II, ripped it up, and yelled, "Fight the real enemy!" after performing on Saturday Night Live.
Hours before O’Connor left viewers and NBC executives stunned when she tore the pope to pieces, No. 18 Stanford silenced the crowd in South Bend by shredding No. 6 Notre Dame’s defense for 33 unanswered points after falling behind 16-0. Cardinal quarterback Steve Stenstrom, who was sacked on the first play of the game, rebounded to pass for 215 yards and two touchdowns. Running back Glyn Milburn added two touchdowns and 119 yards on the ground.
Senior safety John Lynch, who shadowed preseason Heisman candidate Jerome Bettis, led Stanford’s impressive defensive effort. The safety sat out parts of the second quarter with a mild concussion, but forced a Bettis fumble on Notre Dame's first play after halftime. The turnover led to a touchdown that pulled the Cardinal to within 16-13, and after Stanford took a 20-16 lead, Lynch intercepted Rick Mirer in the end zone to spoil a long drive.
It was a signature game of sorts for Lynch, a two-sport standout who was leaning toward pursuing a professional baseball career while enjoying a solid, but to that point unspectacular, final college football season. Lynch finished the game with nine tackles and a hit that fractured the rib of Notre Dame receiver Lake Dawson. The win moved legendary Cardinal head coach Bill Walsh to tears and vaulted Stanford to 11th in the polls, its highest ranking in 12 years.
"I sort of lost my poise and broke down in front of the team," Walsh said. "This is as big a win as I have ever had in my career."
Stanford’s next seven trips to South Bend were decidedly less rewarding, including a 34-15 loss in 1994 and a 31-7 loss in 2002. That Ty Willingham orchestrated the latter defeat made it all the more painful. Stanford has lost its last seven games at Notre Dame by an average of more than 14 points.
So what will Saturday bring? Can Shayne Skov put together a Lynchian performance? Will Andrew Luck cement his status as a Heisman candidate with a big game on national television? Will Katy Perry smoke a Jeffrey and perform "Furry Walls" on the season premiere of SNL? A man can dream.
We’ll have more on the matchup with the Fighting Irish over the next few days. In the meantime, check out SB Nation's excellent Notre Dame blog, Rakes Of Mallow.