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Notre Dame Football

Timber: Notre Dame easily cuts down Stanford

November 28, 2021
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The team that lifted Notre Dame to a record-setting win Saturday night at Stanford now must await its fate for a chance to elevate the program to its first national title in 33 years.

The Fighting Irish pummeled the host Cardinal, 45-14, and in the process secured their 54th win in the past five seasons – tops all-time in the program's record-books.

“Well, 11th victory, certainly one we feel like we controlled the game from start to finish,” said Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. “That's 100 points the last two weeks to just 14, in case you haven't done the math.

“This is a really good football team. I think it's one of the best four teams in the country. We controlled what we needed to control.”

Kyren Williams notched his second consecutive 1,000 yard campaign with a 74-yard, two-touchdown effort. Sophomore tight end Michael Mayer set the program's single season record for most receptions by a tight end – with his nine-catch effort lifting him to 64 on the season.

The Irish (11-1) cruised to an 24-0 halftime lead, both on the strength of Jack Coan's arm and Marcus Freeman's relentless defense.

Notre Dame capped November without allowing a first-half touchdown, limited the Cardinal (3-9) to just 47 yards' offense in the opening 30 minutes and pushed its streak without allowing a touchdown to more than 217 minutes. JD Betrand, Justin Ademilola and Clarence Lewis all forced fumbles for the Irish defense.

“We knew that we had to control this situation because we don't control anything after this,” Kelly said. “Control the controllables, that was the message all week. Because after today, we don't control anything. We were going to make sure today we controlled the outcome. Whatever happened out there today, we made it happen. That was the sense I had from our team.”

The loss cemented the worst season of Shaw's 11-year run at Stanford and dropped the program to 11-19 in the past three seasons.

Offensively, Coan connected on 12 of his first 14 tosses, two of them touchdowns to Lenzy and George Takacs – the first for Takacs since 2019 and just the second of the tight end's career.

Scoring on the ground for the eighth game in a row, Williams bulled in from a yard away for his 13th touchdown the year and a 24-0 lead.

The second half was but a mere formality. Stanford managed to avoid being shut out when it turned a rare Coan interception into a short-field rushing touchdown from Austin Jones.

Tyler Buchner made the most of his limited action with a 33-yard scoring run untouched into the Cardinal end zone in the opening moments of the fourth quarter. Coan and Williams also generated rushing touchdowns as the Irish finished their regular season with 23 rushing scores and 25 through the air.

Notre Dame commanded the ball for more than 34 minutes, amassed 510 yards of offense and yielded just 227 yards, only 55 on the ground, to Stanford.

With echoes of “Chug! Chug! Chug!” sounding through the post-game interview room, Kelly revealed the root of the chant.

“After each game, I chug a fifth of Jameson Irish Whiskey,” Kelly deadpanned. “You guys didn't know this? More folklore for you. We put some Gatorade in the Legends Trophy (given to the winner of the Notre Dame-Stanford rivalry), we started doing that a few years back. I like to chug Gatorade out of the Legends Trophy.”

Now, the Irish await next weekend's slate of conference championship games and their fate in the CFP rankings.

Win or lose in the Southeastern Conference title game against Alabama, top-ranked and undefeated Georgia is all but assured a spot in the Playoff. From there, it's anyone guess. Michigan will secure its first-ever berth with a win in the Big Ten title game, and Oklahoma State kept alive its hopes with its win Saturday night against rival Oklahoma, though the Cowboys are several spots behind the Irish and must defeat Baylor in the Big 12 title game.

Cincinnati capped its undefeated regular season Friday in convincing fashion at East Carolina; the Bearcats, responsible for Notre Dame's only loss this season, host Houston in the American Athletic Conference title bout.

 
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