SOUTH BEND, Ind. — — Tanner McKee passed for 288 yards, Casey Filkins scored a touchdown and Joshua Karty kicked three field goals as Stanford ended an 11-game losing streak against FBS opponents, beating Notre Dame 16-14 on Saturday night.
The Cardinal (2-4), who blew a two-touchdown lead against Oregon State a week earlier, put the game away when a Stanford safety. Jonathan McGill broke up a pass Drew Pyne on fourth-and-7 from the Notre Dame 25-yard line with 1:04 left. It was Stanford’s first win against an FBS opponent since beating then-No. 3 Oregon 31-24 in overtime on October 2, 2021.
“We needed that. We really did,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “Early in the week, I anticipated it was going to be really hard to get our guys back and it wasn’t.”
Shaw said the Cardinal didn’t let the near-miss against Oregon State cause them to give up hope.
As tough as last week’s loss was in the fourth quarter, our kids felt it, they felt they were close. They felt that we don’t need to get rid of everything, it, don’t need to change everything.”
After the game, the Cardinal ran to the end of the field where their fans were and celebrated.
It is the second embarrassing home loss of the season for the Irish (3-3). The Irish were beaten 26-21 by Marshall in the second game of the season, but won three straight later. Notre Dame coach Marcus Freeman said it’s all about execution.
“We didn’t take care of the ball effectively. We also didn’t throw the ball as effectively as we wanted to,” he said. “There was no lack of effort in the game. There was no lack of preparation. But it’s not related to the results you want, so you have to look at what you’re doing and how you’re doing it and figure out a better way to do it.”
The Irish offense couldn’t get much going against a Stanford defense that entered the game 111th in scoring defense, giving up 32.6 points a game. Freeman said the Irish weren’t surprised by anything the cardinal did.
“I have to make sure we look at ourselves and say, ‘What are we not doing,'” he said. “The game plan is to run the ball and try to take advantage of the aggressiveness of their defense and try to shoot.”
Notre Dame scored touchdowns on back-to-back possessions in the second half, but fumbled the ball away on their next possession.
Stanford scored its only touchdown on its first possession, driving 66 yards in eight plays, capped by a 2-yard run by Filkins. Karty then kicked field goals of 45, 43 and 43 yards.
McKee was 26-of-38 passing for 288 yards and the Cardinal had a 385 yards to 311 yards advantage in total offense.
“This is far from the final product,” McKee said. “We have to keep getting better and use this as a stepping stone.”
Pyne was 13-of-27 passing for 151 yards for the Irish with a fumble. He threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Tobias Merriweather and Owl Esteem had a 10-yard scoring run as Notre Dame overcame a 13-0 deficit to take a 14-13 lead, but couldn’t hold on.
Pyne took the blame for inconsistent performance.
“I have to go out and do my job, execute, deliver the ball, get us in the right protection,” he said. “I have to see the defense. I just need to go out there and execute.”
It looked like the Irish might have a short field to work with when officials ruled McKee fumbled, but the call was overturned when replay showed his knee was down. The Cardinal took a 16-14 lead on a 43-yard field goal by Karty with 10:20 left.
The Irish drove on their next possession, but Estime fumbled at the Stanford 25-yard line on a hit by Kendall Williamson and Jonathan McGill recovered at 21.
“It’s just frustrating man. It’s frustrating. We have to be better,” Freeman said.
Edge speeder Stephen Herron had a big sack by Pyne on second-and-4 on the closing drive.
“I tried to just get out of pocket and create something. The guy dragged me down,” said Pyne. “You can’t take a bag in a two-minute operation.”
Notre Dame hasn’t scored a touchdown in the first quarter of six games this season and has been outscored 27-6. … Stanford ended a three-game losing streak to the Irish to claim the Legends Trophy. David Shaw improved to 6-5 against the Irish. … Notre Dame had just 106 yards of total offense in the first half.
“The first half, defense played so well, the best half of football we’ve played all year,” Shaw said. “Not just keeping them out of the end zone, not just a shutout, but getting off the field on third downs, getting in the quarterback’s face, getting pressure on the quarterback, rallying in the run game.”
Stanford: The Cardinal, who suffered a crushing last-minute loss to Oregon State a week ago after leading 24-10 in the fourth quarter, struggled, but managed to hang on.
Notre Dame:: The Irish couldn’t execute when they needed to and repeatedly let Stanford gain extra yards.
Stanford: The Cardinal host Arizona State on Saturday.
Notre Dame: The Irish host UNLV on Saturday.