SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Jimmy Clausen completed a career-best 29 passes for Notre Dame against Stanford, and none pleased his coach more than a throw that went about 3 yards.
"It's a miracle," Fighting Irish coach Charlie Weis said.
That Armando Allen turned Clausen's dump-off into a 21-yard touchdown wasn't what had Weis rejoicing. He was just thrilled to know all the time he's spent hammering Clausen about checking down to the tailback when the deep receivers aren't open is finally paying off.
Clausen did a good job going down the field, too, passing for a career-high 347 yards and three touchdowns as the Irish held on Saturday for a 28-21 victory over Stanford.
"I think it's a major step when the quarterback doesn't force balls down the field and is willing to throw to his flair control," Weis said. "I think that's a major step."
Clausen, the most heralded recruit Weis has lured to South Bend, went 29-for-40, had his second straight three-touchdown game and his second straight career-best performance after throwing for 275 yards a week earlier against Purdue.
"If he weren't having a good day, our point production would have suffered dramatically. But he was having a good day," Weis said.
Cardinal coach Jim Harbaugh said he was impressed by Clausen.
"He's getting his legs underneath him and getting set to make those throws and he's putting them on the money," Harbaugh said.
Despite that, Clausen said when he tried to shake Harbaugh's hand after the game Harbaugh didn't acknowledge him.
"He obviously didn't want to talk to me," Clausen said.
Harbaugh said because of a scuffle at the end of the game he didn't see Clausen.
"My main objective was getting our players off the field," Harbaugh said.
Emotions were high because Notre Dame's seventh straight victory over the Cardinal (3-3) went from being an apparent rout when the Fighting Irish (4-1) were up 28-7 in the fourth quarter to a close game. Stanford made a late run behind Tavita Pritchard. He threw a 1-yard pass to Jim Dray and a 10-yard TD pass to Doug Baldwin with 6 minutes left to close to within a touchdown.
The Cardinal got the ball back on their own 2 with 3:34 left, but couldn't mount a drive. They had one last chance with 8 seconds left, but fumbled the ball and Pat Kuntz recovered to end the game.
The Irish, who started last season 0-5, won their fifth straight home game after losing a school-record six straight at Notre Dame Stadium a year ago. The Cardinal haven't won at Notre Dame Stadium since 1992.
Weis attributed his team's quick start to some comments Cardinal tackle Chris Marinelli made before the game about hating Notre Dame. Kuntz, who had two sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery, agreed.
"I feel like I sent my message," he said. "I just felt all the trash talking that went on before the game fired us up. I felt like somebody was trying to step into our house and push us around. We weren't letting that happen."
Floyd had five catches for 115 yards for the Irish and Allen had seven catches for 66 yards.
Pritchard was 18-of-28 passing for 182 yards, including 10-of-11 for 106 yards and two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Toby Gerhart, who left the game last week against Washington with a mild concussion, scored on a 1-yard TD run and finished with 104 yards on 13 carries.
The Cardinal were slowed in the first half by three interceptions thrown by Pritchard and eight penalties for 51 yards.
"I let my team down in that regard," Pritchard said. "I've got to come out and play better early on."
The Irish took control with two second-quarter touchdowns, sandwiched around an interfering with a fair catch call, to move ahead 21-7. Harbaugh was irate at the call saying his player was blocked into the catch.
"We got a couple really bad calls go against us. That's what I saw from the field anyway. It's hard to imagine that people don't know football any better than that," Harbaugh said.
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