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How Notre Dame went from a 4th quarter lead to getting blown out in 3 and a half minutes against Stanford

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A comedy of errors made a close game an Irish nightmare.

With 14 minutes left in their game Saturday, Notre Dame had a 20-17 lead on Stanford. Three minutes and 36 seconds of clock time later, the Irish trailed by 18.

They lost, 38-20.

The brief rundown of Notre Dame’s extraordinarily quick collapse:

  • First, a Stanford touchdown. This part’s standard, coming on a seven-play, 70-yard drive that started in the third quarter and ended early in the fourth. ND trailed 24-20.
  • Next, an interception on Notre Dame’s very next offensive snap. Brandon Wimbush threw the ball to the Cardinal’s Curtis Robinson, who took it to the ND 29.
  • Then, a three-play scoring drive for Stanford. That made it 31-20.
  • Then, a fumbled Notre Dame kickoff immediately after, giving the Cardinal the ball again at the Irish 18.
  • Followed by a four-play touchdown drive for Stanford. 38-20.

Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush threw an interception in the Stanford end zone on the next drive for the Irish. They later had a touchdown overturned and lost the ball on downs, providing a fitting capper to a nightmarish quarter.

It’s Notre Dame’s second gory loss in three weeks. It also might keep the Irish out of a New Year’s Six bowl game.

The first blow was a rout at the hands of Miami on Nov. 11. Before that, the Irish were a one-loss team whose only defeat had come to No. 1 Georgia. The Irish were marching down a playoff path and had the potential for a truly special season.

Not anymore, really. The Irish are now 9-3 and certain to fall from No. 8 in the playoff committee’s rankings. They’re out of games to improve their resume, and they seem likely to miss not just the Playoff but the New Year’s bowl slate altogether. SB Nation’s projection last week of the Irish to the Cotton Bowl is probably out the window.

Notre Dame still had a nice year. The Irish should be a ranked contender heading into next year. But things have snowballed in a hurry for now, and their 2017 isn’t going to be what it could’ve been a few weeks ago.