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Sunday, October 14, 2012
What we learned about Notre Dame: Week 7

By Matt Fortuna

Here's what we think we know after the Irish's 20-13 overtime win over Stanford

1. The gap has been bridged. Notre Dame didn't just beat Stanford -- it beat Stanford at Stanford's game. The Irish knew Stanford would try to run it at the end of the first overtime, and they knew that the Cardinal knew that they would try to run it. Didn't matter. Four straight stops from inside the 5 sealed win No. 6 for Notre Dame. Can't say any Irish team of recent years would rise up to that kind of challenge.

Stanford's Stepfan Taylor
Notre Dame stopped Stanford's Stepfan Taylor on fourth down in overtime at the goal line.
2. Rees remains unfazed. This time the quarterback was thrown in without warning, as Everett Golson was wobbly after a helmet-to-helmet hit. No matter. Rees, despite brutal conditions, led the Irish on the tying drive and then the winning drive in overtime, his third pivotal role in a win this season. Said left tackle Zack Martin: "We can't take it for granted because I know a lot of teams, their No. 1 guy goes down there, they're screwed. So to have a guy sitting at No. 2 like that, it just means the world to us."

3. Golson can bounce back, too. Three lost fumbles and a number of misfires hardly won over many Irish supporters. But Brian Kelly stuck with Golson through thick and thin Saturday, and the redshirt freshman responded with a couple of big drives -- one ending in a bad snap on a field goal and another with a big touchdown throw to Tyler Eifert. Golson had been good or bad, mostly, through five games. We saw the biggest mix of both Saturday, but much of the good came after the bad, which has to be an encouraging sign.

4. The BCS bowl path is clear: BYU, Pitt, Boston College, Wake Forest. Four games Notre Dame should win. A 10-win Irish team is a virtual lock for a BCS bowl. Can it steal one or two at Norman or L.A.?