By Jacob Kendall
BYU entered the game Saturday at Notre Dame as 13 point underdog. Several national media members identified this as a “trap” game for the Irish. Coming off of an overtime win over Stanford, the week before they go on the road to face Oklahoma. Mark May of ESPN picked BYU to pull off the upset. In order to pull off the upset I thought BYU needed some breaks to go their way.
In the first half BYU was the recipient of some breaks. Notre Dame drove the ball into scoring position three times. But they managed only one touchdown and two missed field goals. After a Riley Nelson interception and two punts, BYU scored touchdowns on consecutive drives. BYU got the ball on their own 44 yard line and drove 56 yards as Riley Nelson found Cody Hoffman for a 6 yard score. On the next Irish possession Kyle Van Noy picked off a Tommy Rees pass and returned it to the Notre Dame 30 yard line. Four plays later Nelson hit Friel for a 2 yard touchdown score. At halftime, BYU headed into the locker room with a 14 – 7 lead.
After trading punts on the first two possessions of the 3rd quarter, BYU drove down to the Notre Dame 28 only to miss a 46 yard field goal. After the stalled drive and missed filed goal the game turned in Notre Dame’s favor. The Fighting Irish put together scoring drives of 65 yards (field goal) and 73 yards (touchdown).
BYU got the ball back trailing 17 – 14 with over 10 minutes left in the 4th quarter. After an Irish penalty on 3rd and long extended the drive, the Cougars methodically moved to the ball into scoring position. But BYU missed an opportunity to score when Riley Nelson threw to a spot about 10 yards behind an unguarded Cody Hoffman, who was running towards the end zone. Even after missing a potential touchdown throw BYU advanced to the 31 yard line, only to give up a sack and stall out the rest of the drive. BYU punted and could not prevent Notre Dame from running all but 20 seconds off of the clock before getting the ball back on the 20 yard line with 20 seconds. A last second desperation throw was intercepted and that sealed the game for the Fighting Irish.
Notre Dame gained yards in huge chunks on the BYU defense. The stat of the game is 6.3. Notre Dame averaged 6.3 yards per carry. BYU came into the game allowing an average of about 2 yards per carry. The Irish running game allowed Notre Dame to essentially end the game with a 9 play 48 yard drive that chewed up 5:48 off of the clock.
Another game with a similar story and outcome. BYU has proven that they can play with good teams, but not close them out. They held the Irish to 17 points–9 under their average of 26. They led going into the 4th quarter. They had the ball 2 times in the 4th quarter with an opportunity to take the lead or tie the game. But BYU once again failed to finish.