Audric Estimé runs through Stanford defense and the Notre Dame record books in an Irish rout on Saturday

Notre Dame v Stanford
Notre Dame v Stanford

If that was Audric Estimé’s final game in a Notre Dame uniform, he ended his prolific career with his biggest night, leading the Irish to a 56-16 rout at Stanford on Saturday. The junior running back scored four touchdowns, setting a single-season record and tying a modern single-game record.

If the Cardinal had been at all competitive, Estimé may have had a chance at the Notre Dame single-game yardage record, 262 yards last reached by Julius Jones in 2003, but instead the Irish established such a decisive lead, Estimé found the bench for the night with only 238 yards on 25 carries, averaging 9.5 yards per attempt.

Halting Estimé's record-setting night fit in line with Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman's comments a week ago, showing physical discomfort when discussing leaving Estimé in to reach 100 yards in what was likely his last game at Notre Dame Stadium.

"I'm never a huge fan of that," Freeman said after that blowout of Wake Forest included Estimé gaining 115 yards on 22 carries. "I'm thinking, this game is over — it's only fair to the kid. We talked about it, and we wanted to get him over 100 yards. ...

"That was important to us for possibly his last game in Notre Dame Stadium, to get him over 100 yards."

The presumption of Estimé heading to the NFL is so distinct, there was absolutely no surprise when Freeman acknowledged that likelihood last week. Estimé did not confirm such a decision, but he also allowed for such a broad thought.

"It's been a journey, a ride, a lot of ups and downs, but I'm so blessed that I chose this place," he said last week. "This place honestly changed my life for the better.

"I could come back. I could not. That's not a decision I made yet."

Logic says Estimé will opt out of Notre Dame's bowl game, no matter what that destination may be. If he doesn't, he is only 72 yards away from setting the Irish single-season record for rushing yards, currently held by Vagas Ferguson with 1,437 in 1979.

But if he takes the usual running back path, opt out of the bowl game and prepare for early entry into the NFL draft, then Estimé's farewell on Saturday was certainly emphatic.

For a bit, Notre Dame even needed him to dictate the game's terms. Three first-half turnovers helped Stanford to a 16-14 lead halfway through the second quarter. The Irish then scored the next 40 points, including three straight rushing touchdowns, two of them from Estimé.

First Quarter
10:59 — Stanford field goal. Joshua Karty 34 yards. Stanford 3, Notre Dame 0. (7 plays, 59 yards, 4:01)
5:37 — Notre Dame touchdown. Audric Estimé 39-yard rush. Spencer Shrader point after. Notre Dame 7, Stanford 3. (4 plays, 78 yards, 1:45)
2:23 — Stanford field goal. Karty 23 yards. Notre Dame 7, Stanford 6. (8 plays, 70 yards, 3:14)
1:31 — Stanford touchdown. Tiger Bachmeier 14-yard rush. Karty point after. Stanford 13, Notre Dame 7. (2 plays, 30 yards, 0:37)

Second Quarter
11:56 — Notre Dame touchdown. Jaden Greathouse 15-yard pass from Sam Hartman. Shrader point after. Notre Dame 14, Stanford 13. (10 plays, 75 yards, 4:35)
8:57 — Stanford field goal. Karty 56 yards. Stanford 16, Notre Dame 14. (4 plays, 0 yards, 0:25)
3:53 — Notre Dame touchdown. Estimé 6-yard rush. Shrader point after. Notre Dame 21, Stanford 16. (10 plays, 75 yards, 5:04)
0:21 — Notre Dame touchdown. Gi’Bran Payne 3-yard rush. Shrader point after. Notre Dame 28, Stanford 16. (9 plays, 56 yards, 1:04)

Third Quarter
10:25 — Notre Dame touchdown. Estimé 5-yard rush. Shrader point after. Notre Dame 34, Stanford 16. (10 plays, 75 yards, 4:35)
6:08 — Notre Dame touchdown. Jordan Faison 45-yard pass from Hartman. Shrader point after. Notre Dame 42, Stanford 16. (1 play, 45 yards, 0:09)
1:12 — Notre Dame touchdown. Estimé 25-yard rush. Shrader point after. Notre Dame 49, Stanford 16. (5 plays, 45 yards, 2:29)

Fourth Quarter
12:41 — Notre Dame touchdown. Javontae Jean-Baptiste 60-yard blocked field goal return. Shrader point after. Notre Dame 56, Stanford 16.
7:16 — Stanford touchdown. Justin Lamson 4-yard rush. Emmet Kenney point after. Notre Dame 56, Stanford 23. (9 plays, 47 yards, 4:58)

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