They're truly a different team in the second half because they didn't play a single team worth a darn after OU at the end of October. Beating Oklahoma in Norman was impressive but I've always been skeptical of OU against any physical team. I don't really care that they blew up Texas a few weeks previous to Notre Dame. Texas is just another big-time program that plays soft on the big stage too. It's no surprise that Notre Dame won simply because they outphysical'd OU. OU was having to pass on every down because they can't really run well anyway when they play anyone with a real run defense; they got blown up by gut-punch runs because they've built a defense for that sissy-ball-pass-all-the-time conference.
I really think that Stanford was the best team they've played and it was debatable whether they would have won it considering Taylor was clearly not fully stopped on that fourth down. I've seen Lacy, Richardson, and Ingram fight for yards in a pile longer without a whistle than Taylor was in that pile he rolled off of into the endzone. I don't think they would have beat Stanford today with Hogan starting at QB. I mean, Stanford was a bad progress-stopped judgement call from extending that game in OT with absolutely nothing positive going on at QB.
I respect Notre Dame's defense...they're a tough cookie but OU was their best win and I have very little respect for OU on the national stage these days.