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College Football Week 5

Irish Make Cardinal Face Music, 35-17

College football: Notre Dame gets its revenge--in up-tempo fashion--against Stanford and its banned band.

October 04, 1998|BILL DWYRE | TIMES SPORTS EDITOR

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — In a football game that established Notre Dame as considerably better than most people thought and Stanford as considerably worse, the Fighting Irish beat the Cardinal on Saturday, 35-17.

It was a game almost devoid of drama, excitement or color. The only suspense in this one was which substitutes would go in in the second half. Like many NBA games, this one had an entire second half of garbage time.

Most of the reason for that was because Notre Dame ran up a 21-0 lead with 7 minutes 15 seconds left in the first quarter and got it to 28-3 with just under two minutes left in the half. In building the first-quarter lead, the Irish scored on drives taking 3:07, 1:16 and :49--a total of 5:12 of possession time.

That's not a football game, it's a track meet.

Also contributing to the lack of excitement--on a cloudy, drab day on which the game-time temperature was announced as "53 degrees en route to a high of 54"--was a missing key element of Stanford's football program.

The band.

Last year, in Palo Alto, while the team was munching on Irish football with a 33-15 rout that included 322 rushing yards, the famed collection of zanies known as the Stanford band was munching on Irish heritage and religion. Its halftime show--dedicated to the theme of "Why Do the Irish Fight?"--included a segment mocking the potato famine in Ireland and another featuring a Pope riding around in a golf cart.

Some Notre Dame fans and some Catholics in general thought that the band had crossed the line of good taste, which, of course, is what the Stanford band exists to do. Enough Notre Dame people could not find enough sense of humor to let this one pass, so the band was banished for this year's game. That left the crowd of 80,225, the 139th consecutive sellout here, with nothing but football. In this case, lopsided football.

For Notre Dame (3-1) the victory did achieve:

* The likelihood of a move upward in the national rankings from its current No. 23 spot. After last Saturday's 31-30 escape against Purdue, most voters seemed convinced that this Irish team was mostly ordinary.

* A network TV spot next Saturday. For its 12:30 showcase game, ABC reportedly was weighing the Notre Dame-Arizona State game against the UCLA-Arizona game. Once the Irish won, and did so convincingly, ABC went with Notre Dame and its huge national following over UCLA and its much better team and ranking.

* Some national attention for quarterback Jarious Jackson. The junior from Tupelo, Miss., who spent his early years here watching from the sidelines as Ron Powlus didn't win two Heisman trophies, is an option quarterback who produced inconsistent results as Powlus' replacement. That is, until Saturday, when he produced 263 yards of total offense, including 100 yards rushing.

"I think this one showed that Jarious can throw," said Bob Davie, Notre Dame's coach. "We are becoming more balanced. It is not easy to defend us when we are like that."

Jackson also scored three touchdowns--the first such performance for an Irish quarterback since Paul Hornung did it in his Heisman year of 1956. Teammate Autry Denson, until Saturday the main Irish offensive threat, scored once and gained 88 yards in 20 carries.

Once Notre Dame made an impressive 99-yard drive that boosted its lead to 35-3 and then lost interest, Stanford junior quarterback Todd Husak, an impressive passer, started to move the Cardinal. Husak, from Bellflower St. John Bosco High, and the son of Loyola Marymount's athletic director, Bill Husak, completed 25 of 41 passes for 226 yards.

Stanford, which actually got knocked around worse last Saturday in a 63-28 drubbing at Oregon, will take its 1-3 record for some possible healing against Oregon State next Saturday at the Farm.

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