Close games and exciting games. Stanford vs Notre Dame showdowns are consistently thrilling and exhilarating; it seems like every year someone wins on a last second play. As Saturday’s game approaches, let’s relive the rivalry.
Notre Dame dominated for the most part in the early 2000s. They won seven straight starting in 2002 until Toby Gerhart arrived at the Farm in 2009. The game was a Stanford vs Notre Dame classic. Led by Toby Gerhart and Andrew Luck, Stanford came back in the fourth quarter to win the game on a last minute touchdown. Toby Gerhart showed that his Heisman campaign was legit as he ran for 205 yards and three touchdowns. In 2009, Stanford made a statement to Notre Dame that the rivalry was about to be revamped in the upcoming years.
In 2010, Stanford entered South Bend having not won there since 1992. The game was one of the very few instances that ended in a blowout. Stanford won 37-14, and the game should be remembered for Owen Marecic. Playing both ways, Marecic scored two touchdowns thirteen seconds apart; one on a short touchdown run and another on a pick six. Stanford controlled the game in 2010 and controlled the rivalry as well.
By 2011, Stanford and Notre Dame both became top college football programs. When they met, both teams were ranked; Stanford was the nation’s fourth best team while Notre Dame was the nation’s twenty second best. The game was all about Andrew Luck, and he led to the Cardinal to a 28-14 win. In 2011, Stanford and Notre Dame showed that they would become the rivalry to watch in years to come.
Stanford got screwed in 2012. The game was close and went to OT, where Stanford had an opportunity to score with first and goal at the 4. After three plays, Stanford was left with one last chance to force second overtime. On a handoff, Stepfan Taylor fought, fought, and fought some more until he crossed the plain. It seemed clear that Taylor scored, but the officials didn’t see it that way. Stanford lost the game that eventually decided the national title game. Notre Dame won the game and made the championship game undefeated, but if Stanford won, they might have faced Alabama instead. In 2012, Stanford fans became filled with contempt towards the Notre Dame team, knowing that Stanford could have replaced them in the national title.
Stanford got its revenge in 2013 as Stanford won 27-20. Tyler Gaffney plowed through the Notre Dame defense for 189 yards, and Wayne Lyons sealed the deal with his second interception of the night at the end of the game. Stanford played Notre Dame to finish the regular season, and the game had no title implications, but it was still a close, fun game to watch.
2014 was another thriller. Stanford had high expectations heading into the season as did Notre Dame, and both teams were highly ranked. After an early season loss to USC, Stanford headed to South Bend needing to prove themselves. Grinding throughout the game, Stanford was up 14-10 before Notre Dame’s final drive. Notre Dame drove the ball to 23 yard line, and needing a touchdown, they had to go for it on fourth and 11. Quarterback Everett Golson dropped back and found a man open in the end zone with just a minute left in the game. In 2014, Notre Dame barely slipped away with a victory.
2015 is still a fresh wound for the Irish. For Notre Dame, the game would determine if they could make the playoff. For Stanford, the game was about pride and keeping their small playoff hopes alive. Notre Dame scored with thirty seconds left to go up by one. The game seemed over. Enter Kevin Hogan. Hogan drove down the field and set up Conrad Ukropina for the game winning field goal after a beautifully thrown pass to Devon Cajuste. Ukropina nailed the kick, and Stanford won 38-36 literally at the last second. 2015 was sweet revenge for the 2012 loss because this time Notre Dame missed the playoff.
The rivalry continues this Saturday at 4:30 PT on NBC. What’s in store for the intense rivalry?