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Stanford smashes Notre Dame with RB Tyler Gaffney, defense

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press
Stanford LB Shayne Skov was a disruptive presence throughout Saturday's win over Notre Dame.

Despite being located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the center of technological innovation, Stanford is a machine with two settings: rushing offense and defense.

The Cardinal relied on both in a 27-20 win over Notre Dame on Saturday, running for 261 yards and two touchdowns and holding the Fighting Irish to 263 yards of total offense.

Running back Tyler Gaffney had 189 yards rushing and one touchdown on 33 carries, ripping through an ND defense that was without nose tackle Louis Nix III due to the season-ending knee surgery he underwent last week and safeties Eilar Hardy and Elijah Shumate due to a violation of team rules.

Gaffney is one-dimensional, but as an overpowering runner that thrives on a heavy workload -- it was his eighth game with 20 or more carries this season -- who needs a second dimension?

Cornerback Wayne Lyons intercepted ND quarterback Tommy Rees twice, while linebacker Shayne Skov added six tackles and one sack in his last appearance at Stanford Stadium. Fellow redshirt senior linebacker Trent Murphy was consistently disrupting Rees' timing, but had only one-half tackle for loss.

Murphy finishes the regular season with 19.5 tackles for loss and 13 sacks, leading the Pac-12 in both categories.

Stanford can claim its fourth straight season with at least 11 wins and a BCS bowl appearance by defeating Arizona State in the Pac-12 championship game next Saturday.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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