Only three weeks ago the Cardinal was riding high after the comeback win over Oregon, and fans had designs on a playoff run. A road win over Notre Dame would vault Stanford into the top five, and the relatively soft Pac-12 would provide little resistance as the Cardinal would cruise through October and November and into the Pac-12 championship game.
That was the plan, anyway, but then things slowly dissolved. Even though the Cardinal struggled through the first three quarters against Notre Dame, an optimist could easily craft a narrative to explain away the eventual blowout loss. Stanford, after all, had had the ball in the fourth quarter with a chance to tie before things got away from them in the 38-17 loss. The Optimistic Narrative says that the game was much closer than the score indicated.
While losing on the road to a potential playoff team like Notre Dame could never be called a bad loss, bad things can still come of losses like that, and in this case it was an injury to Bryce Love. On an innocuous 3rd and 21 play early in the fourth quarter while the game was still a game, quarterback K.J. Costello handed the ball to Love. Love was pulled down from behind, and his ankle (not that ankle, the other one) was twisted. As the best college football player of 2017 hopped off the field, two things happened in the Stanford Twitterverse. First, there was a collective flashback to the injury-riddled close to Love's 2017 season, and second, there was blame.