Stepfan Taylor wasn't given the one yard he wanted, the one yard he thought he had earned by continually churning his legs and reaching the ball into the end zone.
"I thought he got in on the play before that," Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes said. "The game was made up of a bunch of tough plays, a bunch of close plays."
Touchdown Jesus must have had a careful eye on the field Saturday as the Notre Dame defense turned back Taylor's attempt to send it to a second overtime. At least, that's what the refs ruled.
"He's a tough kid. He just keeps his legs turning," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "He gets as many yards as he can on every single play. Every single play to him, he runs it like it's life or death. I love that about him. He's one of guys that is the heartbeat of our team."
Nationally No. 17-ranked Stanford dropped a 20-13 decision to the host Irish in a nonconference football contest in South Bend, ending a three-game winning streak over No. 7 Notre Dame and likely ending Stanford's chances to play in a BCS bowl game unless the Cardinal can get to, and win, the Pac-12 championship game.
Any lingering regrets from its second loss in as many road games can't last very long. The Big Game arrives early this year, occurring next Saturday in Berkeley, set for a 12:15 p.m. kickoff.
Taylor, who rushed for a total of 102 yards on 28 carries, ran the ball five consecutive times during Stanford's bid in overtime to knot the game.
Notre Dame was ready. Irish fans can to sweat out a review of the play before fans spilled onto the field in celebration of Notre Dame's first 6-0 start in 10 years.
For Stanford, there are several questions. For the second time in as many games away from home, the Cardinal offense stuttered and stalled. Josh Nunes was limited to 125 passing yards and failed to throw a touchdown pass. He did, however, throw two interceptions.
The Cardinal scored 13 points in a loss at Washington earlier in the season and matched that on Saturday. In fact, the defense has scored every touchdown on the road.
Jordan Williamson's 27-yard field goal, his second of the game, with 6:12 put the Cardinal up 13-10, and the Fighting Irish drove into Cardinal territory when a personal foul by Usua Amanam costing the Stanford defender 15 yards.
Two of the nation's best defenses figured to dictate the game on a gray, rainy day and they didn't disappoint.
Notre Dame defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt was in the Stanford backfield all day and Manti Te'o was all over Stanford ballcarriers.
On the other side, Shayne Skov and Ben Gardner (who recovered a Notre Dame fumble in the end zone for the lone Cardinal TD) gave the Irish very little room to operate.
"It's probably one of the hardest losses I've felt," Thomas said. "that and the Fiesta Bowl are about the same. Our guys fought really hard and it felt bad that we couldn't come up with a W today."
The Irish got their offense going in the third quarter, outgaining Stanford 114-19, but couldn't get any points. They finally found the end zone on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Nunes, Taylor and the Cardinal responded with their best drive of the game, a methodical 16-play, 65-yard march that took 8:03 off the clock and reached the Notre Dame 3. The Irish got a stop on third down. Williamson's 27-yard field goal made it 13-10 with 6:12 left. Williamson's career-best 48-yarder came in the second quarter for a 10-3 lead and he missed a 25-yarder earlier when Stanford failed to get the ball on the left hash mark for a better angle.
Stanford had enough chances to put points on the board before even getting to OT, but didn't happen. Even the last series, with the ball on the Irish one-yard line had promise with Taylor twisting into the line, staying on top of other players and then reaching the ball over the goal line to no avail.
"I didn't get a view of the last play," Shaw said. "Stepfan swore to me that he got it. That he got over the goal line on the second effort. The officials looked at it and said he didn't get in, so he didn't get in."
Stanford, however, telegraphed the final plays in overtime, seemingly daring the Irish to stop the run up the middle. When all was said and done, Notre Dame did just that.