Despite things looking bleak as ever, Stanford football (2-4, 0-4 Pac-12) entered South Bend, Ind. and emerged victorious on Saturday, The Cardinal walked away with a 16-14 win, defeating a Notre Dame (3-3) team that began the year ranked No. 5 in the country.
After the upset, the Cardinal will return to The Farm with a new glimmer of hope. They’re set to take on Arizona State (2-4, 1-2 Pac-12), a program that has struggled all season, but enters the matchup as hot as it has been all year. After defeating then-No. 21 Washington (5-2, 2-2 Pac-12), a team that Stanford lost to earlier in the year, the Sun Devils enjoyed a bye week, giving them more time to prepare for the Cardinal.
The Daily’s Jason Link, Noah Maltzman, Hawetan Adugna, Drew Silva and Daniel Kim discuss the gravity of last week’s win, the upcoming afternoon kickoff time and what this weekend’s matchup has in store.
Saturday’s win over Notre Dame left Stanford fans rejoicing all over the country. However, while the Fighting Irish began the year ranked No. 5, they’ve also experienced a number of lows; namely, a loss to Marshall and an uncomfortably close game with Cal, who just lost to Colorado. What does the victory mean for the Cardinal, and what are you taking away from the game?
Jason Link (JL): Notre Dame might not be at their best, but this was the Cardinal’s most impressive win of the season, against a rival who began the season as a serious CFP contender. 16-point underdogs entering the game, they walked into a packed stadium in South Bend and came out with a win. Stanford has looked much better over the past two games (barring the disastrous fourth quarter against Oregon St. (5-2, 2-2 Pac 12), and there seems to be room for optimism, however cautious. I’m hoping this is a turning point — bowl eligibility is out of the question, but there still might be a reason to go to games this year.
Noah Maltzman (NM): This is huge for the Cardinal, especially for head coach David Shaw who some had on the hot seat before the win. To go into South Bend, Ind. and win is massive for a program like Stanford, who has been struggling in recent years. I do not think many people expected this; hell, I predicted Stanford would lose 28-49 in an offensive-dominated game. Boy, was I wrong. The Cardinal bounced back well from their loss against Oregon State, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Everyone can only hope that this win continues into a trend.
Hawetan Adugna (HA): Coming off a four-loss streak, this victory versus Notre Dame is a big boost for morale among players and fans. Notre Dame started the season a strong team and entered last game with a three-game win streak, but Stanford seems to be on a path upward after this upset victory. I hope this encourages momentum that results in victories this year, because after the upset victory against Oregon last year, the Cardinal only saw losses. It was a good weekend to be the Cardinal; hopefully the weekends to come generate the same reality.
Drew Silva (DS): The Cardinal are capable of beating an FBS team! After losing a lengthy 11 straight games against FBS opponents, everyone in that locker room needed to see the team get back in the win column against a team outside of the Patriot League. Leaving this rivalry game with the Legends Trophy would have been meaningful to this team even if Notre Dame had entered with a record of 0-5. The Fighting Irish offense appeared to be hitting their stride entering this game, and it was a pleasant surprise seeing a solid performance from a defense that has landed near the bottom of the Pac-12 in the past few seasons. I would argue that David Shaw still remains on the hot seat, but this win has certainly cooled that seat down.
Daniel Kim (DK): Saturday’s win over Notre Dame was huge for the Cardinal, who were looking to bounce back after a deflating last-minute collapse in their previous game against Oregon State. Though Notre Dame hasn’t been at their best this year, going away to South Bend to take on the Fighting Irish is a difficult matchup for any team, and Stanford did well to leave with a win and the Legends Trophy. There were many encouraging signs on both sides of the ball, and hopefully the Cardinal use this win to jumpstart the rest of their season.
Stanford’s defense contained Notre Dame’s offense to just 14 points while the offense’s scoring was supplied by a two-yard touchdown run from junior running back Casey Filkins and three 40+ yard field goals from Joshua Karty. What player(s) or positions groups do you think were most instrumental in the upset victory over Notre Dame?
JL: The defense was key to almost everything in this game. They made big plays, forcing two fumbles and two turnovers on downs, while the Stanford secondary held Fighting Irish quarterback Drew Pyne to 151 yards on 13 completions, his worst start all season. Junior quarterback Tanner Mckee also deserves a shoutout, posting his best completion rate and yardage since Week 1 versus Colgate (1-5, 0-1 Patriot League) and keeping Notre Dame’s offense off the field for the majority of the game.
NM: Defense wins games. Plain and simple. The Cardinal defense finally clicked on both fronts: the front seven and the secondary. Senior safety and captain Jonathan McGill played a sensational game and won Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week from his performance. In addition, senior EDGE Stephen Herron had a crucial forced fumble, leading to a turnover and a momentum gain for Stanford. The defense won the Cardinal their most recent game, plain and simple.
DS: As Noah mentioned, Stanford’s defense had an uncharacteristically solid performance. The pair of sacks from Herron, along with the lockdown coverage from McGill and Kelly, were vital to the Cardinal’s best defensive performance of the season. We do also have to acknowledge Pac-12 Special Teams Player of the Week Joshua Karty, whose fourth quarter field goal ended up being the game winner.
DK: David Shaw will be very pleased with his defense after they limited a Notre Dame offense that had averaged more than 30 points in their previous three games to just 14 points on Saturday night. Two forced fumbles and a big fourth-down stop in the first quarter highlighted a stout defensive display. Stanford’s defense was pivotal in what turned out to be a rather low-scoring encounter.
After a 7:30 p.m. kickoff time at Washington and back-to-back 8 p.m. kickoff times against No. 10 Oregon and Oregon State, the Cardinal finally have an afternoon kickoff time again, their first with students on campus. Head coach David Shaw has made it clear he’s not a fan of the late kickoff times — how much of a difference do you see the game time playing for Stanford, if at all?
JL: I’m not sure how much of a difference game time really makes, but I’m hoping to see more fans at the stadium past halftime than there were against Oregon State. There hasn’t been too much to cheer for so far this year, but perhaps the win at Notre Dame will inspire some real support this Saturday.
NM: Under the lights is a different breed of difficulty. The atmosphere and field conditions are different than if it were a day game. At Stanford Stadium for example, a drive going towards the south end zone will have the offense looking straight into the sun during the afternoon, but not at night. In addition, with Stanford’s fanbase being mostly alumni who have children, afternoon games, from what I have experienced for the last seven years, tend to have more families and less students. Considering they just beat Notre Dame under the lights, this probably will not affect Stanford, but it is interesting to note the differences.
HA: I feel there is an associated adrenaline with nighttime football that cannot be beat, but maybe such is not a reality for Stanford. I am not sure the timing of the game would change much, but I would also hope to see more fan support sustained through to the end of the game — could be the difference between a five-point lead and one-point loss within the last 60 seconds of the game. Especially as it is also Reunion Homecoming weekend, I assume the stadium will be packed with energy, so let’s reign it in Card.
DS: Stanford has not had a home game kickoff early in the afternoon since Oct. 2, 2021, when they took down then-No. 3 Oregon. Without any nighttime campus events to lure students away at halftime, the student section should remain relatively full for a good chunk of this game. The flood of alumni that are returning to campus for the weekend should help to fill out the rest of Stanford Stadium. If the crowd can bring enough energy to even remotely resemble a rowdy college football atmosphere, then the Cardinal should benefit from the early start time.
Arizona State enters next week’s matchup at a time that makes it hard to evaluate them. The Sun Devils are a month removed from parting ways with former head coach Herm Edwards, but they earned a win over Washington their last time out. At the same time, their quarterback situation is unclear: starter Emory Jones remains in the concussion protocol while backup Trenton Bourguet — who took over for Jones and tossed three touchdowns in the upset victory over Washington — has zero career starts under his belt. It remains to be seen who will start against the Cardinal. What do you expect to see from Arizona State?
NM: I honestly do not expect to see much from them. Like it was said, their projected starter has yet to start a game at a collegiate level, let alone an away game. Stanford and Arizona State make up two of the three worst teams in the Pac-12 currently, with many giving the edge to Stanford because of the steady quarterback play and coaching. Hopefully, the Cardinal will be able to perform and keep their momentum by shutting down the Sun Devil offense.
HA: I think Arizona has met its challenges with commendable perseverance. Going into a bye-week with a strong win, if Arizona State keeps the momentum from their victory against Washington and has something to prove from their week off, I expect to see a tough front against the Cardinal — despite not having the home-field advantage.
JL: Stanford 20, Arizona State 13. I’m counting on Stanford’s defense to remember what it did in Indiana and do it again, hopefully with a little bit more production from the offense this time.
NM: Stanford 27, Arizona State 20. Like Jason, I am really banking on the Cardinal carrying their momentum from last week. Last week seemed like an off week for the offense, so I think this week — against the 96th-ranked defense — the Stanford offense can bounce back.
HA: Arizona State 28, Stanford 24. Considering the similar records of both teams and how close their previous victories were, I predict a close game. However, comparing the performance of both teams against a strong Washington team, and Arizona’s bye week, I see the Sun Devils clinching a close victory.
DS: Stanford 31, Arizona State 24. It’s hard not to be optimistic after the team’s first victory in over a year. I agree that the Cardinal offense will bounce back against a Sun Devil defense that surrenders upwards of 30 points per game. I predict Filkins will find himself in the end zone for a third straight week en route to a second consecutive victory.
DK: Stanford 24, Arizona State 17. I expect to see another strong defensive display from the Cardinal after what they showed in South Bend, Stanford will make plenty of big plays against a porous Arizona State defense and lead the Cardinal to their third win of the season.