Our countdown continues with No. 6.
The 2015 installment of this rivalry did not disappoint. It provided a storybook ending to Kevin Hogan’s career at Stanford Stadium. All told, the Cardinal's 38-36 victory, decided on Conrad Ukropina’s field goal as time expired, was one of the best college football games of the season.
So bring on the rematch.
Stanford's last two visits to Notre Dame Stadium have been painful affairs for the visitors in driving rain. In 2012, the Cardinal dropped the infamous Stepfan Taylor forward-progress game. In 2014, the Irish snatched victory from the jaws of defeat on a fourth-down touchdown with less than a minute remaining. So although Stanford broke Notre Dame's heart to earn some semblance of vengeance in 2015, David Shaw’s team still has bad memories to purge entering this 2016 contest.
There's a lot of talent to replace before this game -- on both sides. It'll come at roughly the midway point of the season, so we should see both teams rounding into true form by the time it rolls around. Both defensive fronts -- units that dominated each of the past two meetings in South Bend, must overcome a considerable loss of star power. Stanford is losing Hogan, so their new quarterback will be tested on the road. Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer tormented the Cardinal's defense last year, so we'll see if Stanford is more ready to corral a potent stable of Irish athletes.
The larger context of Stanford's early-season schedule is important to remember here. This game against Notre Dame marks the end of a brutal six-game stretch to open the season which includes Kansas State, USC, UCLA, Washington and Washington State. It'll be trial by fire for the Cardinal's new talent -- we'll see if they can maintain solid positioning heading into this rugged test.
Recent matchups between these two programs have been fiery, hotly contested affairs. We expect the next episode to deliver more of the same.