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Stanford falls at No. 8 Notre Dame, Love leaves injured

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SOUTH BEND, Indiana — Stanford under David Shaw has prided itself on dominating the line of scrimmage.

On Saturday, it was dominated on both sides of the ball by host Notre Dame in a 38-17 loss.

No. 7 Stanford (4-1) was outgained 550-229. The offense ran for just 55 yards, allowed five sacks and had 10 first downs in 13 drives. Meanwhile, No. 8 Notre Dame (5-0) ran for 272 yards and recorded 29 first downs.

“We have to run the ball better. We have to be able to stop the run,” Cardinal coach David Shaw said. “Pretty straightforward things that we take pride in. We didn’t do that tonight.”

And to make matters worse, star running back Bryce Love was injured again.

Five takeaways from the loss:

LOVE OUT

Playing in the stadium where he made his first start, in 2016, Love had a 39-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, but finished with 73 yards on 17 carries. His last run, a 2-yard loss on third-and-21 early in the fourth quarter, ended when defensive lineman Julian Love rolled over his left ankle while making the tackle.

Love limped off the field and went to the locker room. The senior battled ankle injuries last season and has already missed a game this year with an undisclosed injury.

Immediately after the game, Shaw said he did not have an update on Love’s health.

LINE TROUBLES

Normally a run-first offense, Stanford entered the game 109th in the FBS in rushing yards per game (104.3) and will likely go even lower after averaging just 2.3 yards a carry against Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish also recorded nine tackles for loss.

Meanwhile, the defensive line allowed Dexter Williams to gain 161 yards on 21 carries in his first action of the season – his first touch was a 45-yard touchdown, and didn’t do nearly enough to disrupt quarterback Ian Book, who completed 24 of 33 passes for 278 yards and four TDs in his third career start.

“We had (Book) in trouble a couple of times and didn’t bring him down,” Shaw said. “And quarterbacks like this, if you don’t get them on the ground, they hurt you.”

When asked if Stanford could overcome the gap between its line play and Notre Dame’s by the end of the season, Shaw responded: “That is the question, isn’t it? I don’t have an answer for you.”

TURNOVERS

Being outplayed on the line of scrimmage meant Stanford’s only hope was to win the turnover battle. The Cardinal had forced nine turnovers this season, but didn’t get a single takeaway on the 88 plays by the Fighting Irish.

Instead, the game’s only turnover was an interception thrown by K.J. Costello (15 of 27, 174 yards, 1 TD) with 8:10 remaining. Notre Dame scored on the next play from 35 yards out to go up 38-17 and seal the win.

SLOW START

For the fourth time in five games, Stanford trailed after the first quarter – which is even worse when you consider that the Cardinal always start with the ball.

Going 3-and-out on its first two possessions, and giving up the touchdown to Williams, meant the Cardinal were playing from behind the entire game.

PLAYOFFS?

While Stanford still controls its own destiny in the Pac-12, whatever hopes it had of appearing in nearby Levi’s Stadium at the national title game took a severe hit. Losing to a top-10 team on the road isn’t necessarily bad, but the 21-point margin will be hard to overcome.

Even if the Cardinal win out, they now need Notre Dame to lose twice to get in over the Fighting Irish. It will also be hard to jump ahead of teams like Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma and Ohio State if they only finish with one loss.

 

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