- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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Here is what we take away from Notre Dame's 27-20 loss at Stanford.
1. The team put up a strong fight. Losses don't feel good. And Brian Kelly is correct in saying there are no moral victories, especially at a program like Notre Dame. That said, the Irish put up a strong fight against one of the most physical teams in the country, coming a few turnovers, or red-zone opportunities, away from taking down the No. 8 team in the country on the road. Against the nation's No. 3 rushing defense (and one No. 6 in sacks), the Irish ended up playing without all three of their starting interior linemen, as left guard Chris Watt went down with a right knee injury after center Nick Martin suffered an MCL tear last week and right guard Christian Lombard was shut down last month following back surgery. I'm not sure you can really compare losses, but if you look across the last few years, this is the first one that the Irish really competed hard from start to finish and put out a respectable performance.
2. Chris Watt's injury is a shame. Kelly said that Watt's right knee injury did not look good. Few guys have given more to the program than the three-year starter at left guard, and if this affects his future it really will be a raw deal for one of the more enjoyable guys to be around on the team. This would also mark a third straight devastating injury for an outgoing Irish senior near the end of his career, as Kapron Lewis-Moore and Jonas Gray both suffered ACL tears in the BCS title game and in the 2011 Senior Day game, respectively.
3. Bowl future remains up in the air. The New Era Pinstripe Bowl looked like a lock from the minute Kansas upset West Virginia two weeks ago, freeing up the Big 12's spot in the game. Now it looks a bit more uncertain, since Kelly had said he would rely on the seniors for input, and those seniors apparently do not like cold weather. Stay tuned.