PALO ALTO, Calif. — Something about playing Notre Dame in Stanford Stadium seems to bring out the best in Cardinal quarterbacks.
In Saturday night's 38-20 victory for Stanford, redshirt freshman K.J. Costello completed four touchdown passes. It was the first time a Cardinal quarterback had totaled four touchdown passes in a game since Kevin Hogan did the same against Notre Dame in 2015.
Costello hit the mark in just his fifth career start."He'll sit here and tell you he should have had five touchdown passes," Stanford head coach David Shaw said of Costello's competitive spirit. "For a young quarterback in this kind of environment, some of those -- the pocket wasn't perfect. These guys are good. They're good pass-rushers. They edged a couple times. He got hit a couple times."
On Costello's third touchdown pass -- a 19-yard completion to tight end Kaden Smith -- the 6-foot-5, 220-pound quarterback slid away from Irish defensive end Julian Okwara pass rush to deliver a perfect throw.
Notre Dame was unable to make plays against Costello and the Stanford passing game at crucial moments. Typically the Cardinal receivers were simply beating Irish defenders.
"We were prepared," said Notre Dame rover Drue Tranquill. "There wasn't a look we got tonight that I didn't see this week in practice. Ultimately it comes down to players making plays. Our guys, we didn't make the plays necessary in order to win the game."
And Costello seemingly always made the right decision.
"Our young quarterback, we put a lot on his shoulders this game," Shaw said. "Ninety percent of the plays we ran tonight were on his shoulders. We called three plays in the huddle. At the line of scrimmage, had to pick the right play, step up in the pocket, make successful big-time throws. He did that tonight."
In the name of Love
If that's what Bryce Love looks like when he's injured, can you imagine when he's healthy?
Brian Kelly probably doesn't want to. Despite running on an injured ankle on Saturday, Love -- Stanford's 5-foot-10, 196-pound junior running back and Heisman Trophy candidate -- rushed for 125 yards and 6.2 yards per carry in his team's 38-20 victory over No. 9 Notre Dame (9-3).
In 11 games this season, Love has 1,848 rushing yards with 8.6 yards per carry and 16 touchdowns.
"Offensively you run out of words for what Bryce Love is," Stanford head coach David Shaw said on Saturday night. "(He had) 130 yards on a sprained ankle. I mean, he's been in pain for a month. Now we're with the doctors, with the trainers all the time, trying to make sure we're not doing any permanent damage. It's pain tolerance. It's unbelievable. (He had) 130 yards, 20 carries, with a smile on his face.
"It's not about winning awards. It's not being an All-American. It's not because the game is on national TV. He just loves to play. He loves his teammates. If he can be out there, he wants to be out there. It's awesome."
- Notre Dame hasn't won a game it has trailed at halftime since overcoming a 14-12 deficit to beat Virginia 34-27 in 2015. The Irish failed to beat Stanford on Saturday after the Cardinal built a 14-10 lead at halftime.
- Kevin Stepherson's 83-yard touchdown reception is the longest pass play for Notre Dame since Kyle Rudolph's 95-yard touchdown against Michigan in 2010.
- Chris Finke's 41-yard punt return was Notre Dame's longest since C.J. Sanders return a punt for a 50-yard touchdown against UMass in 2015.
- Stanford forced a turnover for the ninth straight game and won the turnover battle 3-0. Stanford is 43-4 under David Shaw when winning the turnover margin.