Notre Dame Football: The Top Ranked Irish Defense And Stanford Recap
Heading into this Saturday's list of games, potential for upsets and revised rankings was sure to be a list of topic's placed near the backburner-not only in the world of college football but for the Irish as well.
Not many expected teams like OU or UCLA to lose games this past Saturday.
Alabama was a favorite and Texas A&M was on a path to the Final 4 at seasons end.
Notre Dame was not concerned with being the underdog on a cold and wet day, nor their slotted rank afterwords.
Their focused on each Saturday and their play dictates that thought. Adversity struck a blow before the Rice game, penalty and turnover plagued games have come and gone and injuries have healed.
Most teams would focus on off-field issues and attempt to overcome adversity and contend with projected rankings.
It's clear the Irish have moved past rankings and suspensions-but the cloud still remains.
The lingering case regarding it's 5 suspended players continues, with all 5 having finished with the hearing phase of things on Friday.
What also is transpiring is a closer look and evaluation of the entire process and the fact that so much time has elapsed with a decision yet to be made where penalties-if any-are concerned.
"If it is determined that student-athletes would have been ineligible during past competition, Notre Dame will voluntarily impose appropriate sanctions, report our findings to the NCAA, and await its independent review," Paul J. Browne, vice president for public affairs and communications, said in the release.
"Due to the complexity of cases involving multiple disciplines, comprehensive honesty committees were impaneled to review memoranda and extensive exhibits compiled in connection with the general counsel's initial inquiry, interview witnesses and the subjects of the hearings, and potentially impose sanctions subject to appeal," Browne said in the release. "A faculty reporter was also appointed to review voluminous material collected during the general counsel's investigation to identify cases for the comprehensive committees' review."
On the field, it's very clear that Notre Dame has turned the page on it's defense-which has climbed into the top 10- and Golson is a leader and player that will win games on his own.
Golson threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Ben Koyack in the corner of the end zone with 61 seconds left to give Notre Dame it's 5th win in 2014.
The top ranked defense of Stanford gave up 370 yards of offense, while the Irish defense yielded only 205 total yards.
205 total yards, only 1.5 yards per rushing attempt and a modest 4.4 yards per pass completion and only 14 first downs on the day.
Ty Montgomery for Stanford was a primary focus heading into the game, but was of little factor at the end of the day, which is primarily the handy work of Cole Luke and Jaylon Smith. Montgomery finished the afternoon with only 26 yards and Luke ended the day for the Irish with 2 interceptions.
Heading into Saturday, one favorable matchup Stanford was looking forward to was the size gap between the larger receivers for the Cardinal and the alleged smaller unit for the Irish on defense. Luke proved the theory is meaningless.
To end the game, Elijah Shumate sacked quarterback Kevin Hogan who was also flagged for intentional grounding on the play, which cleared the remaining 10 seconds off the game clock.
Shadowing 2012 and the performance the defense put on that year may be closer to reality, and the Irish continue on this path without it's top backend player-KeiVarae Russell.
And to stamp the rankings of both defenses combined, on the day the punters totaled 492 yards.
Another major positive for Notre Dame on this day was the sole penalty for 10 yards, along with only 2 turnovers.
Against the nation's top ranked defense, Notre Dame had little trouble establishing it's passing attack. Golson was 20 of 43 on the wet day, with a 17 yard touchdown to Chris Brown and the eventual game winner to Koyack late.
The Irish receivers averaged over 12 yards per reception.
In the aftermath, the Irish vaulted into the top 5 and the dredded 'Heisman' talk again has surfaced for an Irish player with Golson.
The Irish are focused on one thing and that's winning each game, one at a time.
Golson may end up on stage alongside Todd Gurley and others, but again- it's not the goal.
The Irish are doing things this season unlike what many expected.
Several pundits had the Irish losing to Michigan and Stanford at this point.
The defense was to be but a shell of any previous unit that took the field.
Golson was questioned if he would morph into the player of 2012.
Clearly the Irish have 2 favorable areas that can win alot of games and take a team into the playoffs at seasons end:
They have stamped the position of quarterback with the resurgence of the play and leadership through Golson. He will win games if needed and he will rack up stats when the window presents itself.
And the defense, in all it's youth- is not losing games as projected. The play of freshmen Drew Tranquill and Andrew Trumbetti has enhanced a frontline that is now becoming a force offenses may not have anticipated weeks ago.
Notre Dame must now prepare for North Carolina and not do the unthinkable of looking forward to Florida State.
"Upset Weekend" has passed with the magnitude not seen in year's.
But it can happen again, even if for only one game.
Currently, 'upset' is pinned to next Saturday's game in South Bend down in Chapel Hill.