There are few college football programs that have more clout, panache and history than Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish have won eight national championships since 1936 when the Associated Press began its poll, second to Alabama which has 11.
Through five unblemished games, Notre Dame may add a ninth after routing visiting Stanford 38-17 last Saturday night and snapped a three-game losing streak to the Cardinal.
“It was a good victory for us tonight,’’ said Notre Dame Head Coach Brian Kelly, whose team outscored the No. 7 Cardinal 17-3 in the second half. “I think you gotta finish off these games when you play really good competition. We know about Stanford and what they did last week coming back from a huge deficit. We dominated the second half of this football game.’’
Junior quarterback Ian Book passed for four scores and senior running back Dexter Williams had a personal-best 161 yards on 21 carries that included a 45-yard dash that made it 7-0 with 8:13 left in the first quarter.
Book, who hails from El Dorado Hills in Northern California, unloaded a six-yard offering to senior tight end Nic Weishar for his only reception with nine seconds left in the first period as the No. 8 Fighting Irish moved ahead 14-7.
Book’s 10-yard toss to junior wide receiver Chase Claypool (23 yards on three catches) saw Notre Dame (550 total net yards) slide in front 21-14 with 39 seconds left before the half.
“We made the switch because we were looking for a sense of urgency with our offense,’’ Kelly said of starting Book the last two games instead of senior Brandon Wimbush. “We were very hopeful that we were going to get this type of production.’’
Notre Dame (5-0) expanded its lead to 31-17 with 8:16 showing in the fourth quarter when Book (24 of 33 for 278 yards and 47 yards on 15 carries) hit senior wide receiver Miles Boykin (career-best 144 yards on a career-high 11 receptions) with an eight-yard strike.
Book’s 35-yarder to senior tight end Alize Mack for his only catch with 8:02 left came after senior linebacker Te’von Coney intercepted junior field general K.J. Costello (15 of 27 for 174 yards and one pick) that made it 38-17.
Senior Justin Yoon’s 37-yard field goal with just over eight minutes left in the third gave Notre Dame a 24-14 advantage.
Stanford (4-1) evened it at 7-7 as senior running back Bryce Love (73 yards on 17 rushes) had a 39-yard scamper with 4:39 remaining in the first.
Costello’s four-yard pitch to senior wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (30 yards on five receptions) and 10:36 on the clock in the second tied it at 14-14.
Junior Jet Toner’s 46-yard boot with 2:16 left in the third saw Stanford (229 total yards) cut the lead to 24-17.
Rick Assad has written about sports for the Pasadena Star-News and the Los Angeles Times. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.