At First Glance…

Manti Te'o celebrates win No. 6

O'Malley's game notebook presents a handful of game balls, reviews the game's decisive moments, and offers numbers of note in Saturday's thrilling 20-13 overtime win over #17 Stanford.

Offensive MVP: Tyler Eifert

Eifert led a sparse passing game with four receptions and 57 yards, playing a key role on three of the five biggest pass plays of the contest. His early fourth quarter, 24-yard leaping corner route touchdown over a pair of Cardinal defenders gave Notre Dame its first points since late in The Opening period. The score came courtesy starting quarterback Everett Golson's best offering of the afternoon, a high and outside strike to the front pylon to tie the contest at 10 at the 14:15 mark.

Eifert added an 11-yard dig route on 2nd and 15 late in regulation and followed with a drawn pass interference penalty on a deep fade pattern on the ensuing snap, both from backup quarterback Tommy Rees. The latter pair of plays set up Kyle Brindza's game-tying field goal to force overtime.

Offensive Game Balls: Senior running back Theo Riddick led the Irish with 84 all-purpose yards from scrimmage. His 16-yard reception on 3rd and 8 in overtime set up the team's game-winning touchdown pass from Rees to T.J. Jones. The game-winning score was the result of a check down (audible) at scrimmage in which Rees fired a right-to-left 7-yard slant to Jones, who cut across his defender's face before sliding to secure the low throw behind him just beyond the goal line.

Jones finished with four receptions for 45 yards with each of his four grabs resulting in first down yardage. Of Jones' 19 receptions this season, 17 have moved the chains for the offense.

Rees entered the contest in relief of Golson on Notre Dame's final drive of regulation. He completed all four of his throws for 43 yards as well as a third-down conversion via the aforementioned pass interference call. Rees has finished each of Notre Dame's three home games this season, guiding the team on game-winning drives in two of the three contests while scoring the contest's only touchdown in the third (Michigan).

Defensive MVPs: Stephon Tuitt and Manti Te'o

Half-man, half-mountain, the sophomore line-wrecker Tuitt finished with two quarterback hurries, seven tackles (one for lost yardage) and a pass breakup while drawing two holding calls vs. the Cardinal front. Te'o finished with a team-high 11 tackles while defending a pass to force a punt.

The pair was instrumental in limiting the Cardinal to one field goal in four red zone opportunities.

"I think for our defense, we have the mentality that you can put the ball down whoever, doesn't matter, we are used to it," said Tuitt of a red zone defense that's allowed just two scores this season and none since Week Two. "We are special players and we have special coaches and we'll continue to get better."

Said Tuitt of the Irish defense, "We are one of the most physical defenses in the country. We legit."

Defensive Game Balls: Junior nose guard Louis Nix finished with four stops and a quarterback hurry. More important, the immovable second-year starter helped limit Stanford's rushing attack to 3.7 yards per carry and no gains over 13 yards on 40 attempts. Nix was the focal point of the team's four-play goal line stand inside the Irish 4-yard line to secure victory in overtime. His absence following a mandatory injury substitution on second down allowed the Cardinal to gain three of its four yards on the final series that fell short of the goal.

Redshirt-freshman safety Matthias Farley produced the best outing of his six-game career, finishing with eight tackles including one for lost yardage on 3rd and 1 from the Irish 3-yard line, a stop that forced a Stanford field goal.

Farley also intercepted a first quarter pass he returned 49 yards to set up Notre Dame's first field goal.

Said Kelly of Farley, the team's 2011 Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year, "We had to drop him down (closer to scrimmage) a number of times because of the formation. They hit us a couple of ties when we were in our bracket coverage…so he had to be closer to the ball. He made some plays and KeiVarae (Russell) made some plays out there. Both of them played very well for us."

Senior safety Zeke Motta finished second behind Te'o with nine stops, eight of them assisted. Motta cleaned up a handful of Cardinal ball carriers after 1st and 2nd down carries short of the sticks.

Special Teams MVP: Kyle Brindza

In a game where every point mattered, Brindza booted both of his field goal attempts true, connecting on a 29-yard offering to stake the Irish to a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter, then splitting the uprights from 22 yards out to send the game into overtime at the 0:20 mark.

Brindza also drilled all four of his kickoffs for touchbacks, either out of or to the deep recesses of the end zone.

Punter Ben Turk also played a crucial role, hitting for a 41.2-yard average on five punts.

The Numbers Game

Notre Dame's first 10 offensive possessions yielded the following results: 5 three-and-outs, 1 four-and-out, 1 three-and-out (field goal), and three fumbles. Its final three possessions resulted in a touchdown, the game-tying field goal to force overtime, and the game-winning touchdown in overtime.

- Notre Dame is 6-0 for the first time since 2002 and just the 9th time since Ara Parseghian took the helm in 1964…

- Notre Dame is the only team among 124 FBS schools not to allow a rushing touchdown this season. The Irish haven't allowed a rushing since a 45-21 win over Maryland in mid-November 2011…

- The Irish improved to 12-0 when throwing less than 30 passes in the 32-game Kelly era…

- Notre Dame improved to 2-7 during the Kelly era when trailing at the half…

- Notre Dame's defense has allowed the following touchdown totals since Game 10 of 2011: 1, 4 (Stanford 2011), 1, 1, 2, 0, 0, 0, and 0 (Stanford 2012)…

- The Irish defense has allowed touchdowns in just three of 16 opposing marches inside its 20-yard line, and none since a Week Two win over Purdue…

- Notre Dame's has held each of its last five opponents below 300 total yards. Only Navy (341) topped the 300-yard mark vs. the Irish this season…

- Over its last 19 games, the Irish defense has yielded a total of 23 third quarter points. 16 of the last 19 foes have failed to score in the third quarter vs. Notre Dame. Stanford managed just 19 yards in the third Saturday evening...

- Notre Dame's defense has yet to allow a point this season in the first quarter…

- Notre Dame's defense has allowed a total of 45 points over its first six games this season. No team at the program has surrendered fewer over its first five games since 1976 when Notre Dame allowed 43...

- The Irish defense has yielded two touchdowns or fewer in 18 of its last 23 contests; surrendering just one or zero in 11 of the 18…

- Notre Dame is 37-2 since the beginning of the 2005 season when it out-rushes its opponent.

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