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12/01/2013 1:22 AM EST
No. 8 Stanford holds off No. 25 Notre Dame, 27-20
STANFORD 27, NOTRE DAME 20

By ANTONIO GONZALEZ
AP Sports Writer

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- Tangible evidence of a job well done.

It's a phrase Stanford coach David Shaw often preaches to
motivate his players, referring to what they can show they've
accomplished - not what others might say they have or haven't.
At the end of another grueling regular season, Shaw and his team
has plenty of proof of success.

Now they hope for even more.

Wayne Lyons intercepted two passes by Tommy Rees late in the
fourth quarter, and No. 8 Stanford held off No. 25 Notre Dame
27-20 on Saturday night in the regular-season finale for both
teams.

The Cardinal (10-2) captured the Legends Trophy - the kind of
evidence Shaw covets - given to the winner of the series. And
they'll get a chance for an even bigger piece of hardware when
they visit No. 13 Arizona State in the Pac-12 championship game
next.

"The first team meeting on Monday I showed them a picture of the
trophy," Shaw said. "The freshmen hadn't seen it. It was here
for three years, and it was gone. I wanted to make sure they
looked at it. We talk about it, people can jump on and off our
bandwagon, tell us they love us and tell us they hate us, but
when there's a trophy on the line, all you do is point to the
trophy. There's no defense, there's nothing we can say or they
can say about us. You win a game and you get a trophy."

Stanford will go for its second straight Pac-12 title trophy and
Rose Bowl berth at Arizona State on Saturday. The Sun Devils,
whose only league loss came at Stanford, secured home-field
advantage for the championship game after beating rival Arizona
58-21 late Saturday night.

Stanford's final tuneup for the title game turned out to be a
tough test.

The Cardinal overcame two interceptions by Kevin Hogan and a
penalty that wiped away another touchdown to win their 16th
consecutive home game. Tyler Gaffney ran for 189 yards and a
touchdown to cap his sensational Senior Day, and Hogan threw for
158 yards and TD pass to Devon Cajuste to help the Cardinal take
a 21-6 lead in the third quarter.

Rees nearly rallied the Fighting Irish (8-4) by throwing two
touchdown passes later in the quarter. But interceptions on
Notre Dame's final two drives dashed the comeback.

"We took it to them and we were fortunate to come out on top,"
Gaffney said.

Along with injuries to both lines, the back end of Notre Dame'
defense also played short-handed. Safeties Elijah Shumate and
Eilar Hardy did not travel to Stanford due to a violation of
team rules, and the Cardinal took advantage.

Gaffney plowed through the Irish line from a yard out to give
the Cardinal a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter. The
bunched formation was similar to the one Notre Dame stopped
Stepfan Taylor on last year to win in overtime, a stinging loss
that the Cardinal regrouped from to roll off eight straight
victories, including the Pac-12 title and the Rose Bowl.

Backup Anthony Wilkerson capped the opening drive of the second
half in similar fashion. He ran for a 20-yard TD run on
third-and-9 to put Stanford ahead 21-6.

Notre Dame drove deep in Cardinal territory on its first and
final drives of the first half before settling for field goals
each time. With Stanford seemingly ready to turn the game into a
rout, Rees threw touchdown passes to TJ Jones and DaVaris
Daniels late in the third quarter before missing his targets
late.

"Not good enough obviously. Proud of the guys and my teammates
and how we fought all year but you don't come to Notre Dame to
go 8-4, and everyone understands that," Rees said. "You have to
be better."

The Cardinal will likely have to be better against the Sun
Devils if they want to keep the Pac-12 title trophy another
year.

Stanford had no problem sustaining drives but struggled to
finish them with touchdowns in the second half, twice settling
for field goals. On one of them, a holding penalty on right
guard Kevin Danser - only the second one by a Stanford offensive
lineman all season - erased a touchdown rushing for Gaffney.

Bennett Jackson and Austin Collinsworth each intercepted a pass
by Hogan, and officials also called a 15-yard personal foul
penalty on Alex Carter - originally ruled targeting, which would
be an automatic ejection, before it was overturned on a video
review - that led to a Notre Dame touchdown.

Just as it has so many times over the past two seasons, the
Cardinal defense still bailed out the offense in the end.

Lyons intercepted an underthrown pass by Rees, the 36th straight
game the Cardinal have forced a turnover. And after the Irish
stopped Stanford three-and-out, Lyons leaped high to intercept
another pass by Rees on Stanford's 30 with 2:24 left.

"I was in the right place at the right time," Lyons said after
his first multiple-interception game at any level.

Rees finished 16-for-34 passing for 199 yards. He passed Jimmy
Clausen (60) for second on Notre Dame's career list with 61
touchdown passes, behind only Brady Quinn (95).

After losing to Alabama in the championship game, the Irish will
have to wait to find out what lower-tier bowl they'll land.

"It's not where we want to be, 8-4 is not where we want to be,"
Irish coach Brian Kelly said. "We come to Notre Dame to win
football games."

---

Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

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