Marcus Freeman talks upcoming rivalry matchup at Stanford

Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 8:06 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - We’re officially into Stanford week, as Notre Dame looks to pick up its ninth win of the season this upcoming Saturday.

The Irish will meet the Cardinal for the 37th time. This rivalry started all the way back in 1925, and it’s been played every year since 1997.

Notre Dame leads this series 21-14, and the history of Irish vs. Cardinal isn’t lost on second-year head coach Marcus Freeman.

“It’s an unbelievable rivalry,” Freeman said during his weekly press conference on Monday afternoon. “As you look at both of our institutions — the values we have in terms of student-athlete experience, the educational values that both universities provide — it’s a great rivalry that we’re going to try to continue to have as long as we can. . . Those decisions are made by people above me, but I’m always a proponent of making sure we can keep this rivalry as long as we can.”

Two of the three Irish losses this season have been on the road, so they’re going to need to be prepared for this trip to Stanford. The Irish played one heck of a game in their single home loss to Ohio State. The losses to Clemson and Louisville on the road weren’t so pretty.

Now, they’re taking a big trip out west, and Freeman said he recognizes travel has been tough on the Irish this season.

“Obviously, two of our three losses have been on the road,” he explained. “You look at the Clemson game, look at the Louisville game, and we haven’t performed to our standard on the road. And, as I told the coaches, I don’t want to make this only a road issue, but we haven’t performed to our standards. So, as I studied those games, we’ve got to start better. I think both of those games — we were down to Clemson, 7-3, and then Louisville, I think 7-0, to start the game. And we’ve got to, from the first play of the game, have the mentality that we’re going to have to go out there and win the interval on this play. We can’t lose it in any game.”

Even though the Irish already have three losses on the season, they’ve had a tough schedule. A win on Saturday at Stanford to end the regular season could help them get into a much more desirable bowl game.

But regardless of their record, the Irish will certainly look to avenge their loss to the Cardinal in primetime last year at home.

And while it’s a big week because of the rivalry game, it’s also a big week because we’re officially into the holiday season with Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday.

With that, Freeman reflected on what he’s thankful for with his program during Monday’s presser.

“No journey is ever how you perceive on the front end, but you’re appreciative of the people you get to be on the journey with,” Freeman said. “That’s what I’m thankful for. The people that I’m surrounded by every day that are on the same journey as I am. The players, the coaches, every person in our football program, the endless work they put into to try to earn the outcome that we want. It’s not always the outcome we get. What we want isn’t always what we get. But they continue to work and continue to choose to love each other.

“It’s a special place,” he added. “It’s a special football program, but this is a special place. I’m so thankful to be here with this university and this football program.”

Saturday’s tilt against Stanford is set to kick off at 7 p.m. EST. The game will air on the Pac-12 Network.

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