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Rapid Reaction: Notre Dame 20, Stanford 13

Andrew Owens | Saturday, October 13, 2012

By the score of 20-13, No. 7 Notre Dame topped No. 17 Stanford for the first time since 2008 as the Irish remain undefeated with half the season finished. The Irish (6-0) trailed for the first time when sophomore quarterback Everett Golson fumbled in the end zone and the Cardinal (4-2) recovered it for a touchdown. Notre Dame overcame the 10-3 deficit and won in overtime on seven-yard pass from Golson to junior receiver T.J. Jones. Following a goal-line stand, some students rushed the field to celebrate what seemed at times to be an improbable victory.

The good: Like every other week this season, the Irish defense is the reason Notre Dame finds itself on the winning end. For the fourth consecutive game, the unit held its opponent out of the end zone, a streak of 242 minutes and counting. In perhaps its most impressive feat of the 2012 season, the defense stopped Stanford on consecutive plays inside the 1-yard line to seal the overtime victory.

The bad: Just as the defensive domination continues, so too do the woes of an offense desperate for consistency. The Irish amassed just 106 yards of total offense in the first half and where the unit has generally succeeded – protecting the football – it failed today with five turnovers. When the Irish needed offensive production most, players stepped up. Senior tight end Tyler Eifert’s magnificent 24-yard touchdown reception tied the game at 10 temporarily, and Golson settled down after early miscues to ignite the offense. Junior quarterback Tommy Rees replaced Golson after the starter sustained a head injury, and went 4-for-4 with 43 yards and one touchdown on the final drive and overtime.

What we learned: While Notre Dame is nowhere near a perfect team, it is 6-0 for the first time since 2002. Irish coach Brian Kelly has built the squad with a championship-caliber defense. While defensive coordinator Bob Diaco’s group will keep the Irish in every game, the sputtering offense could undermine the team’s prospects of a BCS berth – or more – unless it finds some consistency. With a road test at Oklahoma looming in two weeks, the Irish need to assert a consistent rushing attack or they will slip up in the coming weeks.