Stanford Football: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Recruiting the right quarterback means a tremendous amount to every college football program.

In the Class of 2015, the race has been on for months for programs in need of signal-callers.

With the calendar having turned to June, there are more than 55 quarterbacks who have given verbal commitments to FBS programs.

Most recently, Florida snagged West Coast prospect Sheriron Jones over the weekend. In all, 39 of 62 programs in the Power Five conferences have QB commitments, and more are on the way.


The 2015 quarterback class in California not only has a chance to shape the recruiting rankings in February, but also has an opportunity to shift college football's national landscape for the next few years. While the Golden State has produced more than its share of quarterbacks over the years, not in recent memory has there been a group as deep and talented as the 2015 crop. The Pac-12 is looking to capitalize on the array of talent at the position, but programs from across the country are looking to pry a few of the signal-callers out of the area.

Here are the ESPN 300 quarterbacks from the state:

Josh Rosen -- No. 1 pocket passer -- 6-4, 200 -- committed to UCLA

Rosen was an early lean to Stanford and gave significant looks to Cal and Michigan before selecting the Bruins in late March. Rosen led his high school to an undefeated season and state championship as a junior, one year after breaking onto the national recruiting scene as a sophomore. As the top-ranked quarterback in the nation, Rosen's commitment to UCLA was huge for the Bruins as he has quickly become one of the top recruiters in this class.


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Getting to know Jashon Cornell 

April, 18, 2014
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video Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

When you attend a school as prestigious as Cretin-Derham Hall, as No. 16-ranked recruit Jashon Cornell does, you are bound to have connections. The Minnesota school has produced its share of college and NFL players over the years, including associate dean of students Marcus Freeman, who played for Notre Dame.


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Army Bowl notebook: Jan. 2 

January, 2, 2014
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SAN ANTONIO -- Thursday’s practice session for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl saw players in more of a rhythm on offense, but it also saw defensive players showing their skills. If Thursday is any indication, Saturday’s contest could be a low-scoring affair.

Here are a few notes:

Cannon reaffirms Baylor commitment … again.

For the Baylor fans who read the late-Wednesday tweet coming from ESPN 300 receiver K.D. Cannon (Mount Pleasant, Texas/Mount Pleasant), don’t read anything into it.


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STANFORD, Calif. -- Stanford has long taken pride in capitalizing on any opportunity to add hardware to its trophy case.

Or as coach David Shaw calls it: “Tangible evidence of a job well done.”

Last week, Stanford retained the Stanford Axe and Saturday it reclaimed the lesser-known Legends Trophy with a 27-20 win against Notre Dame before a sold-out crowd of 50,537 at Stanford Stadium. The capacity crowd was the seventh of the year and marked the first time in Stanford history it sold out every home game of the season.

With the Pac-12 championship game against Arizona State looming for the Cardinal next week, there was the train of thought that it could rest some of its starters to ensure a full bill of health headed into what amounts to a play-in for the Rose Bowl.

[+] EnlargeStanford players
AP Photo/Marcio Jose SanchezStanford players celebrated winning the Legends Trophy as well as the fact they just notched the Cardinal's fourth-straight 10-win season.
Shaw wasn’t in that camp. He wasn’t about to tell to his seniors No. 25 Notre Dame didn’t matter or downplay what a fourth consecutive 10-win regular-season would mean to overall state of the program.

“Puts this program amongst the elite,” he said. “You have to say it now. We are amongst the elite, to have this many 10-win seasons in a row.”

One would have been hard-pressed not to include No. 8 Stanford (10-2) on the list of the nation’s elite teams following three straight trips to BCS bowls, but before 2010 the Cardinal had just three 10-win seasons in history.

And, yes, after losing to Notre Dame a year ago, Shaw also wanted the Legends Trophy back on campus.

“First team meeting on Monday, I showed them a picture of the trophy,” said Shaw of the trophy, which is made of California Redwood and Irish Crystal. “Freshmen hadn’t seen it. It was here for three years, then it was gone. I wanted to make sure they looked at it.

“When we talk about it, people can jump on and off our bandwagon, tell us they love us, tell us they hate us. But when there is a trophy on the line, you win the trophy and all you do is point to the trophy.”

With the school’s Hall of Fame currently undergoing renovations, Shaw had an idea for where to display it: “Maybe we’ll keep it in my office.”

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly expressed some frustration in his team’s inability to make a play when it need to down the stretch. The Irish trailed by seven points on all three of its fourth-quarter possessions only to have the first end in a punt and the other two on interceptions from Stanford cornerback Wayne Lyons. Lyons’ first pick extended Stanford’s streak of consecutive games with a takeaway to 36 games.

“There’s no moral victories,” Kelly said. “Very disappointed we weren’t able to come up with a play and win the football game. We didn’t come down here to play a close game.”

The result will unlikely have much effect on either team’s bowl destination.

Notre Dame (8-4) still appears destined for the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium on Dec. 28 with Houston as the likely opponent, but other bowls haven’t given up hope of luring the Irish their way. The AdvoCare V100 Bowl (Shreveport, La.) sent a representative to Stanford for the Irish’s regular-season finale and the Poinsettia Bowl (San Diego) and Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas) remain as other possible destinations.

Kelly gave no update on where Notre Dame might be leaning.

“There’s a lot of schools that obviously still have an opportunity to take some of those spots that are there,” he said. “We’re in a unique situation this year. We’re appreciative of any bowl that would take a good, hard look at us.”

Stanford has its eyes on a return trip to the Rose Bowl, but if it were to lose to Arizona State next week it’s unclear where the Cardinal would go bowling. The two most likely destinations would be the Alamo Bowl (San Antonio) or Holiday Bowl (San Diego).

A year ago, Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney was on the sideline rooting for the Cardinal as a fan at the Pac-12 championship game against UCLA. After running for 189 yards and a score on 33 carries against Notre Dame, he’s excited to make his debut on the conference’s biggest stage.

“Being able to play with these guys day in, day out is why I came back [from minor league baseball],” Gaffney said. “I love Stanford. This has been an unbelievable opportunity this season.”

Five things: Notre Dame-Stanford

November, 30, 2013
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It's No. 25 Notre Dame at No. 8 Stanford in the regular-season finale (7 ET, Fox). Here are five things to watch when both take the Stanford Stadium field.

Kevin Hogan. Hogan was a bystander during last year's overtime thriller in South Bend, Ind., and he did not take over as the Cardinal's starting quarterback until four games later, against Oregon State. Stanford went on to win all five games with Hogan under center, including the Rose Bowl, and is now 14-2 with Hogan at the helm. The redshirt sophomore has plenty of Notre Dame ties in his family. More importantly, he is completing better than 60 percent of his passes for 2,052 yards with 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Hogan is the third different Stanford signal-caller the Irish will face in as many years, and while he is not exactly Andrew Luck, he presents a different kind of challenge this time around from Josh Nunes last year.

Notre Dame's offensive line. It has been a wild 12 months for Matt Hegarty, whose playing career was in question after suffering a ministroke last November. He has since recovered, and with Nick Martin tearing the MCL in his left knee in the first quarter last week against BYU, Hegarty is now the Irish's man in the middle. The southpaw will be tasked with calling out blitzes and communicating with Tommy Rees and the rest of the line as they ready for a Stanford defense that is tied for sixth nationally with 34 sacks. Notre Dame has not been too shabby in protecting Rees, who has been sacked just seven times this season, tied for No. 2 nationally.

Jarron Jones. Kona Schwenke tried to give it a go last week against the Cougars but was sidelined soon enough because of a high-ankle sprain. That led to increased playing time at nose guard for Jones, who stepped up to the plate and doubled his season tackle total (seven to 14) and blocked a field goal. Can he do it again? Schwenke's status remains up in the air. And Tyler Gaffney, the nation's 10th-leading rusher, will be tough to stop, as he has had only 23 carries for zero or negative yards (second-best nationally among backs with 175 or more carries, per ESPN Stats & Info).

Irish running backs. Notre Dame eclipsed the 200-yard rushing mark against BYU for just the third time this season. As Irish Illustrated mentioned earlier this week, the Irish have won 20 in a row when attempting 30 or more rushes. The biggest development against the Cougars might have been seeing two different backs break out for big games, as Cam McDaniel had a career-best 117 yards and freshman Tarean Folston rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown. If they can keep it going against the nation's No. 3 rushing defense (89.5 yards per game), that will take lots of pressure off Rees as well.

Special teams. Jones' blocked kick last week, his second of the season, was huge. And the Irish will need more huge special teams plays in this contest to pull out the win. Stanford leads the nation in kick returns. Notre Dame, as we know, is not very good at defending kick returns (116th), so preventing big plays in that department is a must. But TJ Jones looks closer and closer each week to breaking free for a big punt return -- he might have been on his way last week if he did not get tripped up by the playing surface -- and Kyle Brindza has proven to be a clutch kicker. Both could be difference-makers if the Irish protect the ball on offense.
JonesMatt Cashore/USA TODAY SportsLast season's loss could serve as motivation for Stanford.

Stanford and Notre Dame probably looked at this game in the preseason and wondered if there would be BCS implications. Well, there aren’t. But both teams still have plenty to play for. Notre Dame reporter Matt Fortuna breaks down the Irish side of things while Pac-12 reporter Kevin Gemmell lays out the pros for Stanford.

Matt Fortuna: If last week's game against BYU is any indication, Notre Dame is not taking this, or any contest, lightly.

Sure, the preseason goal of a return trip to the national title game was off the board by the end of a September. And further BCS hopes went up in flames with a flop at Pitt earlier this month. But with a long two weeks to decide whether to blow the rest of this season off or make something out of nothing -- while absorbing the potentially devastating news that Louis Nix's season, and likely Irish career, is over, too -- the Irish responded by putting together their most complete performance of the season against the Cougars.

BYU will not be mistaken for Stanford, but the Cardinal give the Irish plenty more to aim for than they had last week in the lead-up to Senior Day.

They are rivals, for one. The ties between the schools stretch from the field to the sideline to the administration. And they go after many of the same kids, too.

To add to that, Notre Dame has already beaten Arizona State and USC, two wins that look better and better by the week. A win in Palo Alto, Calif., would give the Irish a clean sweep this season of the Pac-12, no small accomplishment given how powerful that league has been this fall.

Plus, a win over No. 8 Stanford would give No. 25 Notre Dame its fourth win over a team that is currently -- and in the case of the Cardinal, will still be -- ranked in the BCS standings. (The Irish also handed No. 11 Michigan State its only loss.)

The only other schools with three wins over currently ranked teams? Stanford and ASU.

A win over Stanford would be make it two in a row for the Irish in the series, no small feat considering how badly the Cardinal had manhandled them in the previous three contests. It would also keep alive the possibility of a second straight 10-win season, another rarity, as the program had not accomplished such a feat since the 1991-93 campaigns, under Lou Holtz.

A date in the Pinstripe Bowl seems to be waiting for the Irish no matter how they play Saturday. But as Cam McDaniel told me in a passionate exchange following his career-best performance last week, to say Notre Dame has nothing left to play for this season is an "ignorant" statement.

Kevin Gemmell: First off, the fact that both of these teams agree to annually play a tough nonconference game is awesome. Who knows what the strength-of-schedule factor will be when the new playoff format rolls around? But here’s a couple of teams that don’t dodge the big games.

As Matt noted, this is a huge game for recruiting purposes because there aren’t many programs in the country that truly recruit nationally. These teams do.

Pending the outcome of the Territorial Cup (that’s Arizona State vs. Arizona for all the Notre Dame folks) the Cardinal could either host the Pac-12 championship game for the second year in a row or could end up in Tempe next week. The outcome of this game has zero bearing on that. But either way, Stanford doesn’t want to be heading into that game with a loss.

The Cardinal have a couple of streaks they’d like to keep alive, as well. For starters, Stanford is riding a 15-game home winning streak, the second-longest in the country behind South Carolina. The Cardinal are 12-1 at home against teams ranked in the AP Top 25 since 2009 and are 36-3 at home since the final game of 2007. A win could also lock up a fourth-straight 10-win season for Stanford.

That’s all well and good. But the name of the game is momentum -- and Stanford needs to keep it going heading into the Pac-12 championship game, regardless of the venue.

A loss to the Irish stunts the momentum of last week’s 63-13 thrashing of rival Cal. Further, should they fall in the Pac-12 title game, they’d plummet down the bowl game pecking order.

Finally, the national perception of the league is at stake. Matt notes Notre Dame’s previous wins this season -- which includes wins over South Division champ ASU and USC -- but it goes back to last year as well. The Irish are currently riding a four-game winning streak over the Pac-12 following last year’s wins over Stanford and USC. Should Notre Dame win, Brian Kelly gets my vote as Pac-12 coach of the year.

Stanford coach David Shaw and his players have reiterated several times this week that this year’s game isn’t about revenge. Stanford is a different team, Notre Dame is a different team. Makes sense. But somewhere deep down there has to be a little bit of bitterness for how things played out in last year's rainy, overtime game.

And let’s not forget the greatest motivation of all. Whether it's Week 1 or Week 14, losing always stinks.

Notre Dame at Stanford: Did you know?

November, 29, 2013
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As always, thanks to ESPN Stats & Info and sports information departments for these nuggets.
  • Stanford QB Kevin Hogan is completing 50 percent of his passes thrown 25 yards or longer this season, an increase of 20 percentage points from last season. His 11 touchdowns on such passes lead the Pac-12 and ranks third among AQ quarterbacks behind Bryce Petty (13) and Tajh Boyd (12).
  • Since the start of last season, Stanford has an FBS-high 91 sacks, including 67 when they send four or fewer pass rushers. Last season against Notre Dame, Stanford had three sacks when sending four or fewer pass rushers.
  • Last season, Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor was stopped on two consecutive rushes from the Notre Dame 1-yard line in overtime, resulting in Notre Dame’s 20-13 victory. In the last 10 seasons, teams scored a touchdown on 85 percent of their drives that reached the opponent’s 1-yard line.
  • Notre Dame gave up an FBS-low four yards on goal-to-go situations last season, including just three yards in a goal-line stand against Stanford in overtime. This season, in such situations, Notre Dame ranks 10th in yards allowed (37) and tied for 10th in touchdowns allowed (9).
  • Hogan has targeted tight ends on just 6 percent of his pass attempts this season, down 42 percentage points from last season. That means that his wide receivers are getting more targets; Hogan has thrown 76 percent of his passes and 17 of his 18 touchdowns to wide receivers this season.
  • Tommy Rees is completing 65.6 percent of his passes and averaging 11 yards per attempt when targeting TJ Jones. When targeting any other wide receiver, Rees is completing 47.9 percent of his passes and averaging 7.7 yards per attempt.

Stanford coach David Shaw often points to last year’s Notre Dame game as a turning point for his program.

You might recall the rainy, overtime ending steeped in controversy that fueled the Cardinal’s us-versus-the-world mentality following the 20-13 loss. It was the kick in the bark that propelled Stanford to eight straight wins and a Rose Bowl victory to close out the year.

And when the Irish roll into Palo Alto this weekend for the regular-season finale for both teams, Shaw knows this much: Last year’s game has absolutely nothing to do with this year’s.

“The replay official said we didn’t cross the line so the game was over. It’s on Stanford’s football team from last year for not getting it done and Notre Dame for getting it done. That’s what happened last year.

[+] EnlargeTrent Murphy
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY SportsLinebacker Trent Murphy says Stanford isn't dwelling on last year's controversial loss at Notre Dame.
“ … A football season has highs and lows and the good teams bounce back because you can’t have a season of all highs. When things don’t go your way you regroup and you retool and you go back after it again. That’s what we did last year after the Notre Dame game. That’s what we did this year after the USC game. This is going to be a great game that’s not going to hinge at all on what happened last year.”

It’s a sentiment echoed by his players.

“That was a long time ago,” Stanford linebacker Trent Murphy said. “I think last year’s game doesn’t really have any carryover into this season. It’s a new team and a new year … [but] there is always something to learn from.”

Added quarterback Kevin Hogan: “We can’t treat this like a revenge game. It’s over. We have a new team, they have a completely new team.”

Saturday’s game has zero bearing on the outcome of the Pac-12 standings. The Cardinal have already locked up the Pac-12 North Division and will be playing in the championship game for the second straight year. Home field advantage isn’t even an issue for the title game, because it all hinges on what happens between Arizona and Arizona State. If the Sun Devils win, they’ll host the title game in Tempe. If not, it will be in Palo Alto again.

But that’s not to say the Cardinal still don’t have plenty of motivation. They are riding a 15-game home winning streak, second longest in the nation behind South Carolina, and since 2009 they are 12-1 against teams ranked in either the AP or coaches poll. Notre Dame is 25th in the BCS and AP polls.

To say nothing of the roller coaster that has been the 2013 Stanford season. Touted early on as a national champion contender, the Cardinal lost on the road to Utah, but bounced back strong with their second-straight win over Oregon. Then a loss to USC essentially wrapped up the conference crown for the Ducks. But Arizona had different thoughts.

Now, the Cardinal are back in the championship game. According to Shaw, that wackiness is just par for the course in the Pac-12.

“It’s college football,” Shaw said. “And I remind people that we don’t go through all the ups and downs that maybe the media and even the fans go through because we’ve got more games to play. If we win a big game they don’t cancel the next week and if we lose a game they don’t cancel the next week. During the week when people are lamenting and calling me names and the sky is falling when we lose and when people are exalting us and telling us how wonderful we are when we win, those things can’t ever affect the football team or the coaches because we move on and play the next week.”

And this week’s opportunity offers the Cardinal a chance to snap Notre Dame’s 2013 stranglehold on the Pac-12. The Irish have already knocked off ASU, the South Division champs, and USC. So there is plenty of reason from a national perspective for the Cardinal not to look over the horizon to Arizona State in next week’s title game.

“One of our team goals is going 1-0 every week and that’s what we’ve been trying to do,” Murphy said. “We got into Cal week and we had to go 1-0, keep the Axe and it was a big game for us. Now we’re facing Notre Dame and it’s the biggest game for us and we need this victory.”

ND trip to Stanford sparks familiarity

November, 27, 2013
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- KeiVarae Russell is a two-year starter at cornerback. By the time he turns 40, he says, he wants to spend a year living in London. He would like to have a poem published by then, too. He was the lead in a school play this past spring, and he is currently taking an acting class.

[+] EnlargeKeiVarae Russell
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsActor-poet-cornerback KeiVarae Russell is one of the players who exemplifies the Stanford-Notre Dame rivalry.
"I'm a creative guy," Russell said. "I love being known for more than just football."

He is what Brian Kelly calls a gentleman off the field and a tough guy on it, distinctions that will hardly be unique when the sophomore takes the field Saturday night for No. 25 Notre Dame in its regular-season finale at No. 8 Stanford.

The Cardinal are among the three teams the Irish have chosen to keep on their schedule annually moving forward. In a season that has seen Kelly discredit the tension with Michigan, the nation's winningest program, it was more than a little noteworthy to hear the coach call the game with Stanford a "great rivalry" Tuesday.

"Both teams want to be the smartest, toughest football teams in the country," Kelly said.

Last year's meeting was the first between schools ranked in the top 20 of both the football polls and the U.S. News & World Report's best colleges list.

This year Kelly is tasked with taking his operation almost 2,000 miles away on Black Friday, a considerably lighter chore given that the schools had once eyed a destination for this contest some 7,000 miles away: China.

The terrain this weekend in Stanford Stadium will nonetheless be familiar for many visitors, Jack Swarbrick among them. The Irish athletic director has trouble hiding his enthusiasm when talking about this matchup, as he received his Bachelor's in economics from Notre Dame before moving on to Stanford Law.

"There are obvious similarities," Swarbrick said. "Private [schools], among the smallest undergraduate populations in the FBS, excellent academic reputations, a broad commitment to collegiate sports model as reflected in number of sports and levels of success, passionate alumni scattered around the globe and very strong brands.

"Relative to football, the clear commonality is an insistence that the members of our teams be fully integrated into the university in the same manner other students are. They are truly student athletes. This is reflected in both graduation rates and the success of our student-athletes after football is over."

Swarbrick has company on both sides. College Football Playoff selection committee member Condoleezza Rice earned her master's from Notre Dame and is a professor at Stanford. Cardinal coach David Shaw has enlisted the assistance of the former Secretary of State in hosting recruits -- one of whom, TJ Jones, initially committed to Stanford but is now an Irish captain. (Rice has been no stranger at Notre Dame Stadium herself.)

[+] EnlargeKevin Hogan
Jeff Gross/Getty ImagesStanford QB Kevin Hogan says he has several family member who went to Notre Dame.
Tyrone Willingham was head coach at both schools. Irish receivers coach Mike Denbrock came from the Cardinal. Then there is Bernard Muir, whose rise to Stanford athletic director included a five-year stint working at Notre Dame for Kevin White, who says Muir "represents the wonderful future of college athletics in every way possible."

Muir's new employer attracted headlines this summer when the Cardinal sold out of season tickets for the first time, underscoring the cat-and-mouse relationship between these two programs.

Notre Dame has sold out all but one home game since 1966, but it is Stanford that will make its fourth-straight BCS bowl with a win in next week's Pac-12 title game.

The Cardinal are quarterbacked by Kevin Hogan, who estimates he has 10-20 cousins and another five or six aunts and uncles who went to Notre Dame. Protecting Hogan is right guard Kevin Danser, whose uncle, John Gallagher, played hoops for the Irish and roomed with Joe Theismann. Reserve center Conor McFadden, whose photographic memory has become the source of attention that seemingly only the Cardinal or Irish could attract, has a grandfather and several uncles who went to Notre Dame as well.

"It's a fun game because you have the connections, family connections, and we all want to win it," Hogan said.

On Tuesday, Kelly fielded a question here about playing "Notre Dame football," sparking a response about how he does not want personalities like Russell's to be marginalized as just football players.

A few hours later in Silicon Valley, Shaw began his press conference by announcing that Stanford had won another off-the-field honor, this time its second straight AFCA Academic Achievement Award. The Cardinal coach then spent the next few minutes talking about how this would help in recruiting.

It only happened to be Notre Dame week.

"We understand how to manage your time so that you do well in school and you do well in football and you have a social life and you enjoy yourself here, that it is possible for all three of those," Shaw said. "When we graduate our guys and we play really good in football and they come to visit, our guys love it here. That helps a lot."

Cornell, No. 1 in 2015 class, narrows list 

November, 20, 2013
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Jashon Cornell (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin Derham-Hall), the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2015, has narrowed his top list. After much deliberation, Cornell has cut the list of schools in the running down to 15.

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ND-Stanford game to kick off at 7 ET

November, 11, 2013
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Notre Dame's regular-season finale will be another primetime kick, at least for those back in South Bend, Ind.

The Irish's Nov. 30 tilt at No. 4 Stanford will kick off at 7 p.m. ET, which is 4 PT for those in Palo Alto, Calif., at the game. The game will air on Fox.

The contest has certainly lost some of its luster with Notre Dame's loss this past Saturday at Pitt, as the Irish could have possibly been going for a second straight BCS bowl berth. It will still be big, nonetheless, with Notre Dame potentially playing the role of spoiler for a Cardinal team that, if it gets the proper breaks, could find itself on the cusp of a BCS national title game berth. (Stanford will likely have the Pac-12 title game to play the following week, too.)

The 7 ET kick at Stanford Stadium means Notre Dame will have played four of its five games away from home this season at night, unless you want to count the Oct. 26 game at Air Force (5 p.m. ET kick) as a primetime affair, too.

Last year's Irish schedule ended up having four of five road games in primetime, too, with the lone exception being the opener against Navy in Dublin (9 a.m. ET).

3-point stance: Seems like old times

September, 27, 2013
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1. At Utah State last season, with the running/passing threat of Chuckie Keeton at quarterback, Gary Andersen’s Aggies ran the ball on 53 percent of their plays. Now that Andersen is coaching Wisconsin, where he has three very good backs and a veteran line, the Badgers are running the ball on 63 percent of their plays. That nearly matches the 66 percent that Bret Bielema’s Badgers ran the ball last season. It’s official -- Andersen has gone native.

2. After weeks of practicing and playing, five Pac-12 schools on the quarter system are just now starting classes. It can be quite an adjustment, especially for freshmen, to become students and athletes. Oregon, which begins class on Monday, brought in a time management expert to talk to the Ducks. Added Stanford football ops director Matt Doyle, “When you constantly emphasize things like time management, responsibility and organization, the first week of school really isn’t that big of a deal.”

3. You don’t have to be Brian Kelly to figure out that Notre Dame is not playing as well as it did a year ago. During the 2012 regular season, the Irish allowed only eight touchdowns in their opponents’ 33 drives into the red zone. This season, in four games, Notre Dame has allowed nine touchdowns in 15 drives. That they are 3-1 as they welcome No. 14 Oklahoma shows the benefit of knowing how to win. But that only works in close games.

Video: Week 2 Conference Call

September, 5, 2013
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Jaymee Sire and the college football reporters set up Week 2.

ESPN.com's preseason power rankings

August, 9, 2013
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College Football Power Rankings illustrationESPN IllustrationTBD BY EDITORIAL


Not surprisingly, the back-to-back BCS champions are again preseason favorites and top ESPN's power rankings. But a number of elite programs are ready for their chance to dethrone the king.

Top 15 breakdown
No. 1 Alabama
No. 2 Ohio State
No. 3 Oregon
No. 4 Stanford
No. 5 Texas A&M
No. 6 (tie) Georgia
No. (tie) South Carolina
No. 8 Louisville
No. 9 Clemson
No. 10 Florida
No. 11 Florida State
No. 12 LSU
No. 13 Notre Dame
No. 14 (tie) Michigan
No. 14 (tie) Texas

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