— Gonzaga Football (@GonzagaTDC) November 29, 2015
STANFORD, Calif. — Kevin Hogan provided the ultimate storybook ending to his time at Stanford Stadium. The senior Cardinal quarterback, raised a die-hard Notre Dame fan by his late father, took Stanford from the jaws of defeat to the thrill of victory in the game’s final 25 seconds. Hogan’s 27-yard pass to Devon Cajuste put Stanford in position to beat the Irish on the duo’s Senior Day.
Stanford stayed alive in the College Football Playoff chase while eliminating the Irish in the process. This was just the latest in a string of nail-biters between the two rivals. The Irish were actually in prime position to win after a 15-play, 88-yard touchdown drive gave them a 36-35 lead with 30 seconds left.
But Hogan and Ukropina would have the last laugh.
What this win means for Stanford: The Cardinal finish the regular season at 10-2, and they remain on life support in their quest for a College Football Playoff bid. If this spectacular finish didn’t raise blood pressures in the Bay Area enough, a Pac-12 championship bout against USC at Levi’s Stadium awaits next weekend. If Stanford wins while receiving a little more help along the way, the Cardinal could end up vying for a national championship.
What this loss means for Notre Dame: The Irish also finish the regular season at 10-2, but this loss drops them from playoff contention. Notre Dame showed tremendous offensive explosiveness throughout most of this game, averaging more than 10 yards per play for a good chunk of it, but the Irish blew a chance to quash Stanford’s final hope. They also didn’t help themselves by converting only one in five red zone chances into a touchdown, so they’ll have to settle for the likely destination of a non-playoff New Year’s Six bowl.
Player of the game: Hogan. On a night when Notre Dame focused on shutting down Stanford Heisman Trophy candidate Christian McCaffrey (27 carries, 94 yards), Hogan was spectacular. He finished 17-for-21 for 269 yards, four touchdowns, a 251.4 rating, and a finishing drive that will live in Stanford lore forever. And it all came against his childhood team less than a year after his father, Jerry, died following a bout with cancer.
Stat of the game: Stanford finished 8-for-12 on third down. While Notre Dame racked up explosive numbers behind quarterback DeShone Kizer and running back Josh Adams, the Cardinal focused on offensive steadiness to put them in good position late. When that plan went awry near the final gun, David Shaw’s club pulled its explosiveness out of the hat: The Cardinal drove 45 yards on four plays in 25 seconds to set up Ukropina’s game winner, which sent the crowd storming onto the field.