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Football: Cardinal rule

Andrew Owens | Monday, November 21, 2011

The Irish will conclude their 2011 regular season Saturday when they travel to Stanford, who still has national title aspirations.

Notre Dame (8-3) enters the season finale ranked No. 22 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings, the first time it has been ranked in that poll this season. The Irish won their 12th game in 15 contests with a 16-14 victory over Boston College on Saturday.

“We asked [the players] to play hard for four quarters, and they did that tonight,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said after the game Saturday. “Just a satisfying win as a football coach to see your team battle. We’ve overcome a lot of things, and [it was] just a really nice victory for our football team today.”

The result was not all positive for the Irish, however, as senior running back Jonas Gray was lost for the season with a knee injury in the win. Kelly said junior receiver Theo Riddick, a former running back, might be an option the Irish look to as a complement to junior running back Cierre Wood.

“We’ll sit down as a staff and, first of all, see what Theo is able to do physically and then decide whether he can go into a running back position and help us out,” Kelly said. “We haven’t made that decision, but we’ll certainly consider it.”

No. 6 Stanford (10-1, 8-1 PAC-12) will provide a difficult matchup for the Irish, who have won eight of nine games since stumbling to an 0-2 start, a testament to their competitiveness, Kelly said.

“Clearly you know coming back from an 0-2 start to continue the winning through a very difficult start of the season would be a great thing for our program as we move forward,” he said. “So [beating Stanford] means a lot. It’s also ⎯ you know, that last game you play, you know. You want to be feeling good about your bowl practices and things of that nature. So it’s the [No. 6] team ranked in the country. They’ve got arguably the best quarterback in the country. It’s a national television game. It’s a great way to finish up the season.”

The Irish and Cardinal will kickoff at 8 p.m. EST Saturday in Palo Alto, Calif.

 

Contact Andrew Owens at aowens2@nd.edu