STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Notre Dame offensive lineman Jim
Molinaro understood when his coach Tyrone Willingham visited with
his former players before the game.
"He recruited those guys," Molinaro said. "But he's here now.
Julius Jones made sure Willingham's return to Stanford was
triumphant, running for 106 yards in the first quarter of Notre
Dame's 57-7 victory over the Cardinal on Saturday night.
Jones finished with 218 yards and a touchdown, becoming the
first Fighting Irish player in school history to go over 200 yards
three times in the same season. Ryan Grant ran for three touchdowns
in Notre Dame's highest scoring output in nine years.
"It's incredible. I never thought I'd have a 200-yard game let
alone a 1,000-yard season," said Jones, who was academically
ineligible last season. "I felt good after that first carry, and
the offensive line kind of dominated. They played their best game
of the year so far."
Brady Quinn threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to Matt Shelton and a
45-yard strike to Maurice Stovall -- and Willingham enjoyed his
first trip back to The Farm since leaving to coach Notre Dame after
the 2001 season.
He even called for a fake punt with a 50-point lead late in the
game based on his read of Stanford's defense, but fell short of a
Willingham greeted several of his old players on the field after
the game. He admitted it's hard to see Stanford struggle.
"It's difficult because there are so many fine young men I have
a great deal of respect for," Willingham said. "You want them to
have success. ... The emotions were before the ballgame and after
The Irish (5-6) won their third straight and were sharp coming
off their bye week, which was no surprise considering they haven't
lost the week after an open date since Nov. 12, 1994, at Florida
Stanford (4-7) lost its final three games, but still improved
over coach Buddy Teevens' 2-9 rookie season last year. The Cardinal
were hoping to finish on a high note, but instead suffered their
worst home loss ever.
"It's just all bad stuff," Teevens said. "Their defense put
us in tough situations. To go out like that, yes it's
A small crowd of 46,500 witnessed the rout -- compared to the
80,795 who came out in last year's matchup at Notre Dame Stadium.
Many Stanford fans started leaving at halftime after the Cardinal
fell behind 34-0.
Quentin Burrell recovered a fumble and returned it 65 yards for
a TD and Garron Bible returned a fumble 44 yards for a score. Notre
Dame hadn't been this productive since beating Navy 58-21 on Oct.
Stanford quarterback Chris Lewis was under constant pressure
thanks to an inspired defensive effort by Notre Dame, which had
three sacks in the first quarter and held the Cardinal to 9 yards
in the opening period.
On the first play of the Cardinal's second series in the third
quarter, Lewis hit Mark Bradford for a 65-yard score -- but that was
one of few bright spots for Stanford.
"We didn't tackle, we didn't get first downs and we turned the
ball over for touchdowns," Lewis said. "We never played the way
we needed. They jumped out on us quick and it was hard to come back
because they have such a good defense."
Lewis struggled with his timing all night, and he gave way to
backup Kyle Matter early in the fourth. Matter wasn't any better.
Regular backup Trent Edwards was hospitalized all week after
undergoing emergency surgery on his left thigh injured in last
Saturday's loss to California.
Jones, coming off his career-best three-touchdown performance
two weeks ago, broke two tackles on his 10-yard touchdown run early
in the first quarter. Jones had 74 yards in the Irish's 90-yard
opening drive, the team's longest of the year.
"We sensed (coach) wanted to take it to them, especially with
the running game," Molinaro said. "If we stay with our blocks,
(Jones) makes something happen. He can make one or two guys miss
and he's gone."
Jones' 25-yard carry on the first play from scrimmage put him
over the 1,000-mark for the season. He is the eighth Notre Dame
player to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
Here's how bad things have been for Stanford: Punter Eric
Johnson set school single-season records for number of punts (86)
and yardage (3,687).
One Stanford fan was heard saying, "The only good news is
there's no traffic leaving the stadium."