- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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No. 3? That would be the highlight of the home season for the Irish.
ESPN's College GameDay was in town. The rainy elements were befitting an old-school matchup. Then Notre Dame and Stanford took turns beating the brains out of each other for nearly four hours.
Everett Golson had his most uneven start of the season, losing three fumbles but throwing a tying touchdown pass to Tyler Eifert in the fourth quarter. Down three on the Irish's final drive of regulation, Golson was drilled by the Cardinal's Usua Amanam, knocking the signal caller out with what was eventually ruled as a concussion. Tommy Rees entered and completed 4 of 4 passes for the game, setting up Kyle Brindza's 22-yard game-tying field goal with 20 seconds left and hitting T.J. Jones for a 7-yard touchdown pass in overtime.
Holding on to a 20-13 lead, the Irish then stuffed running back Stepfan Taylor four straight times inside the 5-yard line, withstanding a video replay on the final stop to set off a party for the ages inside Notre Dame Stadium.
The final stop of Taylor set off some debate. Officials also marked the ball wrong on an earlier Stanford possession. And coach David Shaw said that his players had stopped playing on a third-down play on the Cardinal's penultimate possession, as they heard an alleged whistle from the crowd.
No matter. Stanford had beaten Notre Dame three straight years before this matchup, outrushing the Irish by a 642-208 margin over the course of those contests. The Irish out-rushed the Cardinal this time, with a goal-line stand securing the win, their sixth of the season — one over a team that ended up winning the Rose Bowl.
At the end of the regular season, athletic director Jack Swarbrick pointed to the Stanford contest as the game in which the team had turned the corner, as Notre Dame reached the halfway point of the season unscathed with a thrilling win.
No. 10: Rees replaces Golson on final drive, leads Irish to win over Purdue
No. 9: Irish open season in Dublin with rout of Navy
No. 8: ND gets revenge on Robinson, UM in night win to cap perfect opening month
No. 7: ND survives missed FG, missed penalty and 3 OT scare from Pitt to stay perfect
No. 6: Notre Dame tours award circuit after perfect regular season
No. 5: Notre Dame joins ACC, will play five ACC games per year in football
No. 4: Irish rout Wake on Senior Day, ascend to No. 1