STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Tangible evidence of a job well done.
It's a phrase Stanford coach David Shaw often preaches to motivate his players, referring to what they can show they've accomplished — not what others might say they have or haven't. At the end of another grueling regular season, Shaw and his team has plenty of proof of success.
Now they hope for even more.
Wayne Lyons intercepted two passes by Tommy Rees late in the fourth quarter, and No. 8 Stanford held off No. 25 Notre Dame 27-20 on Saturday night in the regular-season finale for both teams.
The Cardinal (10-2) captured the Legends Trophy — the kind of evidence Shaw covets — given to the winner of the series. And they'll get a chance for an even bigger piece of hardware when they visit No. 13 Arizona State in the Pac-12 championship game next.
"The first team meeting on Monday I showed them a picture of the trophy," Shaw said. "The freshmen hadn't seen it. It was here for three years, and it was gone. I wanted to make sure they looked at it. We talk about it, people can jump on and off our bandwagon, tell us they love us and tell us they hate us, but when there's a trophy on the line, all you do is point to the trophy. There's no defense, there's nothing we can say or they can say about us. You win a game and you get a trophy."
Stanford will go for its second straight Pac-12 title trophy and Rose Bowl berth at Arizona State on Saturday. The Sun Devils, whose only league loss came at Stanford, secured home-field advantage for the championship game after beating rival Arizona 58-21 late Saturday night.
Stanford's final tuneup for the title game turned out to be a tough test.
The Cardinal overcame two interceptions by Kevin Hogan and a penalty that wiped away another touchdown to win their 16th consecutive home game. Tyler Gaffney ran for 189 yards and a touchdown to cap his sensational Senior Day, and Hogan threw for 158 yards and TD pass to Devon Cajuste to help the Cardinal take a 21-6 lead in the third quarter.
Rees nearly rallied the Fighting Irish (8-4) by throwing two touchdown passes later in the quarter. But interceptions on Notre Dame's final two drives dashed the comeback.
"We took it to them and we were fortunate to come out on top," Gaffney said.
Along with injuries to both lines, the back end of Notre Dame' defense also played short-handed. Safeties Elijah Shumate and Eilar Hardy did not travel to Stanford due to a violation of team rules, and the Cardinal took advantage.
Gaffney plowed through the Irish line from a yard out to give the Cardinal a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter. The bunched formation was similar to the one Notre Dame stopped Stepfan Taylor on last year to win in overtime, a stinging loss that the Cardinal regrouped from to roll off eight straight victories, including the Pac-12 title and the Rose Bowl.