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Instant Reaction: Irish stun Stanford, 17-14

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Golson caps wild rally with 23-yard strike to Koyack to down the Cardinal for the 2nd time in three years.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Did your heart stop? Did your blood pressure elevate? Did you wildly gesture at your television?

You're not alone.

Welcome to the Wild World of Notre Dame football.

Everett Golson showed every bit why Irish fans missed him last season by capping off a wild rally late in the 4th quarter with a touchdown pass to Ben Koyack as Notre Dame stunned Stanford, 17-14 in a rainy, cold Notre Dame Stadium

The game had all the environment of the epic 2012 matchup that Notre Dame won in overtime. Loud boistrous crowd, rain, cold, the works.

And it affected the game completely.

Stanford and the Irish, both sporting top-tier defenses, kept the game low-scoring and close early on. The Irish harassed Stanford QB Kevin Hogan (18-36, 158 yards, 0TD, 2INTs) all game and forced key turnovers. In return, Golson had shades of the yips he had last week against Syracuse, throwing a bad pick and losing yet another fumble.

But he and the Irish rallied.

After going down late in the 4th quarter on a surprising 3rd and 11 touchdown run by Stanford, Amir Carlisle allowed the ensuing kickoff to go out of bounds, giving Golson and the Irish good field position. From there Golson picked his spots, looking to Corey Robinson and Will Fuller to take the Irish downfield. A pass interference call on Fuller in the end zone moved the Irish closer but they still couldn't get in.

Then, on a 4th and long, Golson dropped back in the pocket, flushed to his left and found tight end Ben Koyack wide open in the back of the end zone for a score, putting the Irish up for good.

The Irish defense held firm, not allowing the Cardinal to move downfield in chunks and Elijah Shumate ended the game with a sack on Hogan that resulted in a grounding call that moved the Irish to 5-0.

Some thoughts below

Notre Dame out-manballed Stanford

Wow. What a game. Ugly, grinding...phew. Another tip of the cap to Brian Kelly and Defensive Coordinator Brian VanGorder for trusting their units to get the job done. The Irish defense effectively shut down Stanford, forcing Hogan to win the game without his star player, Ty Montgomery. Montgomery was a non-factor (5 carries for 14 yards, 4 catches for 12 yards). Consider that the Irish held Stanford to 221 yards of total offense. That is the lowest yards allowed ALL SEASON. Rice, Michigan, Purdue and Syracuse all gained more yards on the Irish than the Cardinal. That is out-manballing an opponent who boasts about their ability to do so. Shaw should've been looking into his playbook instead of complaining to the officials about the band playing too long.

Despite the Field Goal issues, the Irish Special Teams gameplan was perfect

The Irish wanted to minimize the impact of Ty Montgomery on the game and in order to do that, they had to shut him down on special teams and all credit to the Irish special teams for doing so. Punts went out of bounds or high enough to be unreturnable. Kickoffs (minus one) went out of the back of the end zone. The Irish wanted to keep Montgomery in check and they did so. I'll leave it to Punter Bro to fill in the details.

The Irish are in the driver's seat for the college football playoff.

The Irish did what they needed to do today. They won. In turn, the #2 (Oklahoma), #3 (Oregon), #4 (Alabama) and #6 (Texas A&M) teams all lost on Saturday. At #8-9, the Irish should be a top-5 team once the smoke clears Sunday morning and with a dynamic slate of opponents coming up, the Irish have every bit a chance to sneak into the playoffs.

Everett Golson: Heisman front-runner?

His stats weren't exciting (20-43 for 241, 2TDs and a pick and a lost fumble; 7 carries for 34 yards) but he did what a leader does: he put the team on his back and led them to victory. If that doesn't put him into a discussion at least, I don't know what else he needs to do.