Oct. 7, 2006
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -Not quite a blowout, though far from a scare, No. 12 Notre Dame had a comfortable day against winless Stanford.
Brady Quinn threw for three touchdowns, Darius Walker ran for a season-high 153 yards and a touchdown and the Notre Dame defense played its best game of the season in a 31-10 win over the Cardinal on Saturday.
“I’m content with this game,” Irish coach Charlie Weis said. “First of all, the defense goes out there and gives them a long drive and basically shuts them down the rest of the day. That’s a good thing. The offense I thought was fairly meticulous. It’s not about scoring 50 points; it’s about how you feel about how you’re playing.”
Weis, who threatened the Irish with a long, hard bye week if they didn’t play well against Stanford – which nearly upset the Irish last season – was pleased that Quinn was 27 of 37 passing for 232 yards, that the Irish rushed for 204 yards, converted on 7 of 13 third downs and didn’t have a turnover.
“You can sign me up for that most weeks,” he said.
Despite being held to 226 yards total offense and the Cardinal being held to a field goal on first-and-goal from the 4 early in the game, Stanford coach Walt Harris found reason for hope.
“We have a lot of work to do, but we made some improvements, I thought, offensively at times,” Harris said. “Defensively, I think it still continues to get a little better. Special teams was better.”
The Irish, who won their first eight games in 2002, are off to their second best start since also starting the 1998 season 5-1. Stanford (0-6) is off to its worst start since losing its first six games in 1983 en route to a 1-10 season.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Stanford quarterback Trent Edwards said.
Quinn completed TD passes to Jeff Samardzija, Rhema McKnight and John Carlson. It was the fourth time this season Quinn has thrown at least three TD passes and the 12th time in his career.
“There aren’t that many quarterbacks that can play the game the way he plays the game,” Weis said.
It was the second straight 100-yard game for Walker and his second best game rushing. Walker, who also had six catches for 45 yards, rushed for 186 yards on 35 carries against Stanford last season. The Irish finished with a season-high 204 yards rushing against the Cardinal defense, which entered the game last in the nation in rushing defense at 282.8 yards a game.
The Irish defense, which entered the game ranked 92nd in the nation, held Stanford to a field goal through three quarters before finally getting beat on a 57-yard halfback pass from Anthony Kimble to Kelton Lynn 33 seconds into the fourth quarter – the longest play of the season for the Cardinal.
But the Irish defense played solidly, holding the Cardinal to 72 yards rushing and 226 yards total offense – the fewest yards allowed by the Irish this season. They held the Cardinal to three-and-out on three straight possessions in the first half and sacked Trent Edwards five times – three by defensive end Victor Abiamiri, who had four sacks against the Cardinal last season.
“He turns into a pass rushing demon when we go against them,” Weis said.
The Irish, who needed a last-minute touchdown a year ago to beat Stanford, took control late in the second quarter. They drove 68 yards in 2:26 to go ahead 14-3 on a 15-yard pass from Quinn to McKnight with 29 seconds left in the first half. Quinn was 5-of-6 passing on the drive for 32 yards, completing a 15-yard TD pass to McKnight. McKnight caught the ball at the 7, cut inside cornerback Brandon Harrison and ran untouched to the end zone. It was his fifth straight game with a touchdown.
The Irish then went ahead 21-3 by scoring on their first possession of the second half. Walker scored on a 32-yard run, his longest run of the season. Walker accounted for 65 yards on the 76-yard drive, with a 14-yard catch on a swing pass and 51 yards on three runs.
The Irish added a 35-yard field goal by Carl Gioia and a one-handed TD catch by Carlson.
“That was phenomenal,” Weis said. “I thought the ball was overthrown, to tell you the truth. Of course when he came to the sidelines I said, ‘Two hands, please.”‘
It was one of the few complaints Weis had, aside from Stanford’s long touchdown. But the Irish know they played well enough to keep Weis happy.
“It really feels good winning a game and then having a bye week,” Walker said. “We’ve got two weeks before we play again, so it’s going to be nice next week.”