Oct. 16, 2016

By John Heisler

Notre Dame and Stanford faced off in Notre Dame Stadium Saturday-in the second Irish home night game of the 2016 campaign.

Here are some Irish takeaways from their 17-10 loss to the Cardinal:

1.Close (again), but no cigar.

Three points (in overtime), eight points, three points, seven points, seven points. Those are the margins that have separated Notre Dame from victory in five of their games so far in 2016. Irish coach Brian Kelly knows his team can only change its fortunes by finding ways to win at the end.

2. Give the Irish defense some credit (again) .

Notre Dame’s defense permitted only 296 total yards (its best effort of the year other than in the miserable conditions a week ago in Raleigh) and came up with three take-aways (its best total of 2016). The pass defense allowed only 64 Stanford aerial yards over the final three periods. And over the last eight periods, NC State and Stanford have combined for only a single offensive score against the Irish.

3. The Notre Dame offense needs to finish (again).

It’s been something of a broken record, yet Kelly and the Irish know they haven’t lacked opportunities this season. In all five defeats, they’ve had late-game opportunities to change the equation and have not been able to make it happen. Flipping that scenario likely will impact the remainder of the 2016 slate-with games remaining against Miami, Navy, Army, Virginia Tech and USC.

4. No home sweet home.

Playing at Notre Dame Stadium has not translated into any sort of advantage in 2016. The Irish have lost three consecutive outings on their home field, and that has not happened since 2007. Remaining home foes Miami and Virginia Tech-both ranked in the Associated Press poll last week-provide distinct challenges as Notre Dame attempts to change that particular piece of momentum.

5. Time to get away.

With Notre Dame students on fall break this week and an open weekend ahead on the Irish football schedule, the players have a chance for some time off in advance of Miami’s Oct. 29visit to Notre Dame Stadium. Kelly and his staff hope that time away will help the Irish put themselves in position for a strong stretch run.

Notre Dame senior associate athletics director John Heisler has been watching Irish football since he joined the athletics communication staff in 1978.