By Aaron Bagley
There is a popular quote often used: “Look good, feel good, play good”. That wasn’t the case last Saturday when the Cougars welcomed the Beavers of Oregon State to Provo. The Cougars blackout unis looked fantastic, and the blackout atmosphere was great, but the execution didn’t live up to expectations. There are still a lot of unanswered questions about BYU, and there will most likely be a lot of unanswered questions after visiting South Bend this Saturday.
#5 ranked Notre Dame is coming off a decisive overtime win against #22 ranked Stanford. It was a defensive struggle, yet the Irish defense, led by Heisman candidate linebacker Manti Te’o pulled off the victory thanks to an impressive goal line stand to end the game. Notre Dame is coming into this game with high hopes, and their goal is getting to a BCS bowl game.
LB Manti Te’o: He is arguably the best defensive player in college football. He leads a strong Notre Dame defense, who are only giving up 8.7 points per game. Expect him to be all over the field and affect the game in a major way. Te’o has only gone 2 games without double-digit tackles, so expect him to show up big time.
QB Everett Golson: He is coming off a concussion against Stanford, but he is expected to play. Golson is a sophomore quarterback and hasn’t been overly impressive. However, he is undefeated, which is a great feat in itself. Expect Golson to have a decent game, and expect the Irish to take some chances going deep against CB Jordan Johnson. Oregon State definitely exposed him last week, so Notre Dame will likely continue to target him.
Offensive Line: The Cougars offensive line has some major issues this year. They have not been consistent, and losing Houston Reynolds and Famika Anae certainly didn’t help their cause. Riley Nelson has a real problem with decision making, and the fact is, he won’t throw the ball out of bounds, and hates taking sacks. So if the Irish defense eats up this O-line, expect Riley to throw more interceptions, and possibly even get hurt. If BYU wants to even think of winning, the offensive line needs to step up big time.
Defense: After a disappointing performance against Oregon State, this Cougar’s defense is looking for redemption. There is no bigger stage to prove that they are truly great than at Notre Dame. I expect them to blitz early and often. If they don’t pressure the quarterback, Notre Dame might have a big game offensively. Stopping the run will also be crucial. I think BYU’s front seven will do well and help the Cougars chances of getting the upset.
Jamaal Williams: Williams is my Y-Factor for this game. Establishing the run will prove to be key for BYU. You can’t expect Nelson to do really well because he is just too inconsistent. It will be extremely hard to run over this Notre Dame defense, in fact, no one is likely to run over this Irish defense all season; they are too good. However, if Jamaal performs well, it could go a long way in helping the Cougars pull off the upset.
Notre Dame has the ability to blowout BYU. It all depends on the consistency of the team. BYU’s consistency problems this year have been disappointing and irritating. The reality of it is, Notre Dame’s defense is amazing. There is no other way to put it. BYU’s defense was tested and exposed last week against a top 10 team, and the Irish are a better team than the Beavers. Notre Dame has the momentum coming in, while BYU was embarrassed last week. I think if Riley plays well, and cuts down the turnovers, BYU could possibly pull off the upset. BYU’s turnover margin in wins vs losses is drastically different! Turnovers will be the difference in this game ultimately, and I don’t think BYU will pull off the upset. I hope I’m wrong, but I think Notre Dame comes out on top with a score of 27-10.