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Stanford's football focus is on Notre Dame

Harbaugh takes himself out of Michigan job search and gets ready for the Irish

There's a head football coaching job available at Michigan, and Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh thinks the school will get a good one.

"It's not going to be me," he said Tuesday. "I'm happy where I am. There's a class of one and Stanford is that one."

Harbaugh will be coaching his first game against Notre Dame on Saturday, with a scheduled 12:30 p.m. kickoff. He's familiar with the Irish program, though, having started twice against them as Michigan's starting quarterback and leading the Wolverines to victory both times.

Highlights of those games can be found on YouTube, not that any of his players have seen them.

"I have not seen them," Stanford freshman fullback Owen Marecic said. "I waste too much time on YouTube as it is."

"I'm going to have to check those out," Stanford junior nose tackle Gustav Rydstedt said.

Do any of the players ask about his college playing days?

"Nah, not a one," Harbaugh said. "But those are games I remember quite vividly."

While Rydstedt thinks of Notre Dame as just another game, Marecic is looking forward to his first close-up exposure of the Irish.

"It's such a big rivalry game with them," Marecic said. "There's a lot of emotion involved with this game. We've all grown up seeing them as a prestigious institution."

Notre Dame (2-9) is suffering through one of its worst seasons ever -- gee, wasn't that being said at Stanford at this time last year? -- and yet the Irish's presence at Stanford Stadium remains something special.

"Notre Dame had one of the toughest schedules in America this year," Harbaugh said. They've played a lot of freshmen. But if you play college football, and get a chance to play Notre Dame with their storied tradition and the legends who have played there, it's a game you're going to remember for a long time."

The Irish had never lost more than eight games in a season before this year, and the last time Notre Dame won two or fewer games was back in 1963.

The Irish are coming off just their second win of the season, a 28-7 win over Duke, and will be playing its final game of the year.

After its bye week, Stanford (3-7) is taking a short term view of its season.

"Two games, that is our season right now," Rydstedt said. "The bye week brought us a new season."

It also returned running back Anthony Kimble, who missed four games with a separated shoulder, and cornerback Nick Sanchez to health. Both are expected to play against the Irish.

The offensive backfield took quite a hit over the past few games, so with Kimble returning to action, there's less pressure on newcomers Jeremy Stewart and Tyrone McGraw. Stewart and McGraw have shown they can develop into something special. It also means that freshman cornerback Corey Gatewood's career as a running back may be over. He was the emergency player rushed into action against Washington.

"We're looking forward to getting Anthony back in the lineup," Harbaugh said. "The bye gave him a chance to shake off the rust. We're getting him back to where he's ready to go."

Kimble rushed for 109 yards against Texas Christian, the game in which he sustained the shoulder injury.

"He's a great leader, always encouraging," Marecic said. "He has the attitude that he's always moving forward. The team needs that spirit."

Sanchez has missed two games because of an injury. His presence and leadership in the defensive backfield will strength that unit.

Sophomore receiver Richard Sherman also returns to action after serving a suspension in Stanford's last game.

Notre Dame has won the past five meetings with Stanford by an average of 22 points. The Irish might think just scoring 22 against the Cardinal this week would be exceptional. Notre Dame ranks at the bottom or close to it in four offensive categories.

Stanford's passing offense is ranked 64th in Division I, and last in the Pac-10 in scoring offense and total offense.

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