After three poor quarters of offensive drives that ended in disappointment, Stanford was able to put together a scoring drive late in the game. The biggest difference in this game was the defense of Stanford, which did all the scoring early and held an explosive Notre Dame offense to just 10 points.
Early on Stanford had the usual trouble of not finishing solid drives, between missed field goals and fumbles it had the makings of a long night. However, the biggest difference in this game right away was the ability to establish the run early in the game with Bryce Love. Whether it was poor defensive line play from the Fighting Irish or the Cardinal finally getting on the same page, they were able to get back to the running game and balance there attack with Love. Despite the success with Love on the ground, the offensive line still struggled to protect Ryan Burns and saw him sacked three times and pressured most of the game. This also caused the sack fumble for the turnover.
Burns and the passing attack (or lack their of) was only able to generate 120 yards and and an interception. The accuracy for Burns continues to be a problem, as he just does not look comfortable in the pocket.
An early take away was the assurance the Cardinal running game is still capable once MCaffrey leaves, Love can step up in a big way for this offense as he ended the night with 129 yards on the ground.
On defense the Cardinal did exactly what they needed to, letting the running game go and focusing on the passing attack. What ensued was holding Kizer to 154 yards through the air no passing touchdowns and two interceptions. The impact of having Quenton Meeks was huge and immediately noticeable. Safeties could be rolled and cheat over to the opposite side, and Meeks had multiple breakups. He proved to be the difference maker with the long pick six to get Stanford on the board for the first time in the third quarter. The defense stood up again when forcing the safety. A better performance from the unit as a whole and they should only get better when Holder returns.
While a win is good to see and key players like Meeks and Love looked dominant, it is hard to take a lot away from this win. They were able to pull out a win in the forth quarter against a team that moved to 2-5 on the season. Burns still looked shaky at best, the receiver situation is dismal, the front seven can be run on and they cannot trust their kicker. There is plenty of work to go on this team yet.