Staff Predictions: BYU vs. Notre Dame
Observer Football Beat Writers | Thursday, November 21, 2013
By ANDREW GASTELUM
This will not be an easy win, that’s for certain. Just look at last year’s way-too-close margin of victory over the Cougars here at Notre Dame Stadium during an undefeated run. A strong BYU defense knows this Irish team has struggled to convert in the red zone this year and knows this Irish defense isn’t the fortress it was a year ago.
But I firmly believe Notre Dame learned its lesson at Heinz Field two weeks ago and will not fall into another trap, even if the Cougars are more talented than the Panthers.
There is just no way Notre Dame loses two in a row in November. Not after a bye week. Not on Senior Day. But it will be close.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 27, BYU 23
By MATTHEW DeFRANKS
Assistant Managing Editor
This BYU team is a scary one. They may be inconsistent (They lost to Virginia. Virginia!) but their potential is far more important than their past results. The Cougars enter Notre Dame Stadium with a quarterback that has run for more than 950 yards on the season and an offense that averages more plays per game than both Oregon and Baylor.
The key to the game is to stop the BYU offense. I’m just not sure if the Irish are up to the task. Notre Dame has struggled against mobile quarterbacks, let alone ones that simply run at you. The Irish have also never seen anything like BYU’s up-tempo attack.
As the seniors say their goodbyes to Notre Dame Stadium and marshmallows fly from the student section, the Irish lose on Senior Day for the first time since 2009.
FINAL SCORE: BYU 31, Notre Dame 21
By MIKE MONACO
In seven wins this season, BYU has averaged 41.3 points and allowed 20.6. In three losses, the Cougars averaged 15.3 points and allowed 22.0.
Point being, Saturday’s contest could very well come down to BYU’s offense against Notre Dame’s defense.
The Irish defense had a much-needed bye week to refuel and recuperate, and it could get major reinforcements from the likes of Ishaq Williams and Kona Schwenke. The Cougars have allowed nearly three sacks per game this season, so this could be a game where the Notre Dame defense cuts loose and makes game-changing plays, as it did versus Arizona State.
Given the time off, the Irish defense will do enough against a strong BYU offense, and Notre Dame’s offense will put the necessary points on the board. But it will be close.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 24, BYU 21
By JOSEPH MONARDO
Associate Sports Editor
A loss to the Cougars could be disastrous for Notre Dame. And not just because a defeat would drop the Irish to 7-4. If the team can’t send out its seniors with a win, will they at least be able to send them out with the Alma Mater?
BYU could make the issue very relevant come Saturday night. Brigham Young’s squad has performed with exceptional offensive balance this season, averaging 265 rushing yards and 238 passing yards in it’s contests. Although Notre Dame is coming off a crushing upset loss, the Irish have still put together a few impressive games this season – most notably against Michigan State, Arizona State and USC. It is always tough to get the emotions right on Senior Day, but these Notre Dame seniors have a lot of pride to play for. It should be enough to power the team to another strong performance in Notre Dame Stadium.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 30, BYU 23
By JACK HEFFERON
Notre Dame’s crushing loss to Pittsburgh was the final nail in its BCS coffin, leaving the team with a disappointing smorgasbord of inconsequential bowl destinations.
With that in mind, Saturday’s matchup of 7-3 teams might just come down to which squad wants their eighth win more. That would seem to favor the visiting Cougars, who get the chance to avenge a close loss last season and knock off the Irish on national television.
But after two weeks to think about what went wrong against Pittsburgh, Brian Kelly’s first graduating class will dig out a tough win in their last chance to play at Notre Dame Stadium. This game will be another tight one, giving Tommy Rees one final chance to win over the fair-weather fans that have followed him for the past four years.
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 29, BYU 28