5. Oct. 24, 1964: Notre Dame 28, Stanford 6
The game itself is a blowout, with Notre Dame accumulating 29 first downs to Stanford’s four while holding the Indians (their politically incorrect nickname back then) to 56 yards total offense.
The Four Horsemen cemented their legend with the 27-10 victory against Stanford in the 1925 Rose Bowl to win the national title. Left to right: Don Miller, Elmer Layden, Jim Crowley and Harry Stuhldreher.
The significance is that in first-year head coach Ara Parseghain’s miracle Renaissance season — one year after a 24-14 loss at Stanford that began a five-game losing streak for a 2-7 finish — the No. 2-ranked Irish improve to 5-0 and make the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Quarterback John Huarte completes 21 of his 37 passes for 300 yards, making him the second Notre Dame quarterback ever to reach the 300-yard mark in a game. Jack Snow’s eight catches for 113 yards already make him the school’s all-time single season receiving leader. Halfback Bill Wolski rushes for 102 yards on 18 carries, scores twice and adds a 54-yard scoring reception.
4. Oct. 2, 1993: Notre Dame 48, Stanford 20
One year earlier, Stanford and first-year head coach Bill Walsh shocked the Irish 33-16 in Notre Dame Stadium for their lone defeat that season. The game became personal for Lou Holtz because the main storyline was how Walsh “out-coached” him. The week before this game, Holtz feeds on the theme all week to his team that “we better out-play them because they’ve got a big advantage in coaching.”
The No. 4 Irish dominate from start to finish in this victory at Stanford while coming up with several explosive plays. Clint Johnson returns one kickoff for a 100-yard touchdown and sets up another TD with a 79-yard return. Quarterback Kevin McDougal rushes for two touchdowns, including a 19-yard jaunt, while backup Paul Failla completes an 80-yard scoring pass to Derrick Mayes.
3. Oct. 1, 1988: Notre Dame 42, Stanford 14
Junior quarterback Tony Rice plays flawlessly while the No. 5 Irish improve to 4-0 in this night game at home. Rice rushes for a game-high 107 yards and two touchdowns, but more importantly, he completes 11 of his 14 passes for 129 yards and a score — and ties a Notre Dame record by completing 10 straight passes at one point.
Rice began the season by completing only five of his first 23 passes through the first two games and the start of the third.
"I spent the whole week throwing darts," Rice said after the win over Stanford. "I threw 100 darts a night last week, because the coaches told me that it would improve my passing.”
Meanwhile, tri-captain and offensive tackle Andy Heck summarizes. “I don’t know if this team knows how good it can be. That’s good, because we’ve got to keep running scared.”
2. Nov. 26, 2005: Notre Dame 38, Stanford 31
With a BCS bid and $14-million on the line for the 8-2 and No. 6-ranked Irish in the regular-season finale, the home team Cardinal stuns Notre Dame on a touchdown with 1:46 left to take a 31-30 lead.
Quarterback Brady Quinn begins the ensuing drive at his 20 — and six plays later running back Darius Walker scores from six yards out, and adds the two-point conversion, with 55 seconds left in the contest.
Under first-year head coach Charlie Weis, Notre Dame finishes with 663 yards of total offense (57 off the school record) but has to scratch and claw to the finish. Quinn completes 25 of his 38 passes for 432 yards, with Jeff Samardzija catching eight for 216 yards and Maurice Stovall seven for 136. Overshadowed is Walker’s workhorse performance in which his 35 carries net 186 yards.
1. Jan. 1, 1925: Notre Dame 27, Stanford 10
This Rose Bowl victory remains one of the dozen most significant wins in Notre Dame history for numerous reasons. One of them is that it clinched the school’s first consensus national title under head coach Knute Rockne against an esteemed program led by coach Glenn "Pop" Warner and the nation’s premier player, running back Ernie Nevers.
It also was Notre Dame’s first trip to the West Coast. The school would continue to garner a national following and set the wheels in motion for the start of the rivalry against USC a year later.
Finally, it cemented the legend of “The Four Horsemen” — quarterback Harry Stuhldreher, halfbacks Don Miller and Jim Crowley, and fullback Elmer Layden. Had Notre Dame lost this game, the backfield would not have been immortalized the way it is today. It would have been like the New York Jets and Joe Namath losing Super Bowl III, with Namath getting lambasted as a loudmouth who couldn’t deliver on his guarantee.
Layden’s all-around performance ranks among the greatest in college bowl history. He scored the first touchdown on a three-yard run, returned two interceptions for 70- and 78-yard scores, and he averaged 48.5 yards with his punts, keeping Stanford repeatedly bottled up deep in its own territory.
Stanford out-gained Notre Dame 316-186 in total yards and had 17 first downs to seven by the Irish. But it also had eight turnovers, while Notre Dame had “only” four. Three of those eight Stanford turnovers led to defensive TDs.
"They earned but six points, and the statistics show we completely outplayed them except for those fatal errors," Warner said. "Notre Dame has a great team, but I think I have a better one."
When told by a sportswriter about how Stanford was the statistically superior team, Crowley shot back, “Yeah, and next year they’ll award the World Series to the team that leaves the most men on base.”