#7: Golden Tate @ Stanford (November 28th, 2009)
The Stat Line:
10 Catches, 201 Yards, 3 TD
The Final Score:
Notre Dame 38 - Stanford 45
Heading into the final game of the 2009 season, Charlie Weis and the Irish needed a victory to get to 7-5 and a lower-tier bowl berth. Win or lose, the seat under Weis was extremely warm, and many (including myself) had the feeling that if he didn't win the final game against Stanford as well as whichever bowl game we attended, he would be fired. Three truly disappointing seasons in a row meant the writing was on the wall for Weis and his staff.
There was plenty of pressure on the program to be successful, even more so because it was apparent that two of the big cogs of the Notre Dame offense for the past three years would be leaving for the NFL; both Golden Tate and Jimmy Clausen were expected to declare for the draft following the 2009 season.
For Golden Tate, his final game against Stanford proved to be a fitting capstone on a great season and a phenomenal career. He ended the game with 10 catches for 201 yards and 3 touchdowns, a great possession receiver, as well as a homerun threat. He had truly developed into a top-flight WR with all of the skills he would need to succeed at the next level.
The game started well for the Irish, forcing a 3 and out on the first drive. Unfortunately, Theo Riddick fumbled on the first play of the ensuing possession, which setup a Toby Gerhart 4-yard touchdown run. Stanford would return the favor on the next drive, after Tyler Gaffney fumbled a punt return, setting the Irish up in the Stanford red zone. After driving to the 5 yard line, Clausen was able to find Tate on a quick jerk route to the far goal line pylon for his first TD, tying the ballgame up at 7-7. Stanford would kick a field goal, which was then answered by a Michael Floyd touchdown, putting the Irish up 14-10 heading to the 2nd quarter.
After trading field goals to start the 2nd quarter, ND started in the shadow of their own end zone. They were bailed out from a 2nd and 19 from their own 3 by a Stanford personal foul; on the next play, Golden Tate made them pay:
How many times did we see Tate pull down throws he had no business catching? Double covered, not a truly physically imposing receiver, coming down with it anyways and strolling in for a TD. Tate always had a knack for amazing everyone with what he was able to do. Following this score, ND led 24 - 13. Stanford would answer before the half to narrow the score to 24-20.
Coming out of the half, ND would score on this play to Michael Floyd (I know this is a post about Tate, but really, I'm not going to NOT use this article as an excuse to post this):
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The Irish had taken a 31-20 lead right out of the half, but after an answering TD from Gerhart and an early 4th quarter field goal from
Benedict Arnold Nate Whitaker, Stanford had narrowed the score to 31-30.
Then, as if he and Michael Floyd were re-enacting something out of Annie Get Your Gun, Golden Tate went in for this score to put the Irish up 38-30:
In a fitting end to Weis's tenure, however, the Irish were unable to get two stops when they needed them the most, and ended up falling 45-38 (including a HB pass from Toby Gerhart) to the Cardinal.
Tate would go on to finish 10th in the Heisman voting, was a consensus All American, and would later be drafted by the Seattle Seahawks. He finished the 2009 season with 93 catches for 1496 yards and 15 touchdowns; 25 rushes for 186 yards and 2 touchdowns; and a punt return TD for good measure.
For someone seemingly undersized who literally only ran go routes for his first season, Tate turned out to be one hell of a player.
#7 - Golden Tate @ Stanford (November 28th, 2009)