Aidan Thomas – Sports Editor
After a bye week, I’m trying to control my optimism and remind myself that UNC’s defense is abysmal. But there were a lot of things that looked a whole lot better against the Tar Heels two weeks ago, and with an extra week to make adjustments, I like the Irish’s chances in Vegas. Notre Dame has never lost a Shamrock Series game. They’re also 6-2 against BYU and have never given up more than 23 points.
I think the Irish will jump out to a big lead early, with BYU having some first-half struggles this year. However, the Cougars are a good second-half squad and have a ton of depth where Notre Dame doesn’t so that’s a concern as this battle wears on. My prediction? Notre Dame is up by eight before BYU scores late but fails to convert the two-point conversion. The Irish defense prevails in a big-time moment against a big-time opponent on a big-time stage.
Notre Dame 31, BYU 29
Nate Moller – Senior Sports Writer
Coming out of a bye week always scares me. The Irish have only scored three points in the first quarter all season, and it’s very likely that they come out of the gates slow because of the bye week. I expect the offense to find its groove later on in the game, though, as they establish the run game and continue to build off of their stellar performance against UNC two weeks ago.
BYU’s run defense is better than UNC’s, but they are by no means stellar, and the Irish should be able to exploit the Cougars’ defensive line. On the other side of the ball, the Irish will have their hands full with BYU quarterback Jaren Hall, who has been sensational this season. I expect Saturday’s game to be a back-and-forth battle, but the Irish looked much improved two weeks ago, and I expect them to build off of that performance and secure their biggest victory of the season so far.
Notre Dame 34, BYU 27
Mannion McGinley – Assistant Managing Editor
Post-bye week games have consistently gone poorly in recent Notre Dame history. This one cannot. I don’t know what kind of fire the Irish need to light under themselves but it needs to be there right from the get. Pull juice from the uniforms, from each other, from the environment, I don’t care, but there’s a way for the Irish to win this game and it requires every piece of the puzzle to bring their A-game.
The Irish defense has it in them to make the prolific BYU offense one-dimensional. They did so with UNC and regardless of the Tar Heels’ defensive skill (or lack thereof), the offensive hold-up is something to brag about for the Irish. They need to do it even better this weekend. The turnovers have begun and it’s a matter of doing it again and again this weekend. Once the defense takes the ball away, the Irish offense has to kick it into gear. Run game. Run game. Run game. Occasional strong pass play to Mayer or Lorenzo Styles and then more running. The Irish can pull it off if they put a stopper in the Cougar offense and go to work on their own.
Notre Dame 35, BYU 31
Liam Coolican – Associate Sports Editor
Notre Dame’s offense seems to have finally turned a corner. Yes, North Carolina’s defense is among the worst in college football, but the way Notre Dame went about their game plan was impressive. They dominated the line of scrimmage and established the run early, which allowed them to unlock a vertical dimension that had previously been lacking. This weekend is an important test for the Irish.
They figured out what they need to do to be successful from a play calling and a personnel standpoint last week, but they have to be able to execute against a better defense to prove it is for real. On the other side of the ball, the Irish have been able to limit quarterbacks such as CJ Stroud and Drake Maye to low outputs, and that should provide a blueprint for the Cougar’s dual-threat quarterback Jaren Hall. The offense looks poised to continue its upward trend, and the defense will do what it has done all season, as the Irish get a statement win in the desert.
Notre Dame 27, BYU 20
Emily DeFazio – Associate Sports Editor
Before the UNC game, I had said that this would be a turning point for the Irish. Regardless of the caliber the UNC defense, if Drew Pyne & Co. could get some momentum going and snag two wins in a row, it would be invaluable mentally for the team. If anything came out of the matchup in Chapel Hill, I hope Drew Pyne realized he could play as QB1. He will need that confidence heading into the Shamrock Series.
The Irish cannot afford turnovers or overthrown passes like there were at the beginning of the season. This is not a Tar-Heels-level defense they are up against, and they need to achieve the same success against a much stronger BYU line. That being said, the defense needs to continue to bring their A-game to shut down BYU’s offense and give the Irish some wiggle room on the other side of the ball. I expect some early struggles on offense as they adjust to this new opponent, and BYU keeps it close until a fourth-quarter passing touchdown to keep the Irish ahead.
ND 31, BYU 24
Maddie Ladd – Associate Sports Editor
Are the Irish feeling lucky in Vegas this weekend? I like the odds. A Shamrock Series weekend in the NFL Allegiant Stadium will certainly provide an excellent backdrop for an exciting game as Notre Dame takes on BYU. Plus, I’d like to think the special-edition uniforms have to give the Irish an extra boost (come on, they’re pretty cool). A victory against UNC two weeks ago saw the run game come to life and major development from quarterback Drew Pyne.
Coming off of a bye week will have given the team a chance to regroup and prepare for the big stage. Nevertheless, BYU is a talented team and has earned its No. 16 ranking after a 4-1 start to the season. Quarterback Jaren Hall is one to watch after a stellar season so far, though the Irish will surely put up a fight on defense.
I believe Notre Dame can establish a big run game this weekend, and if Audric Esitme, Chris Tyree and Logan Diggs can get after it, they’ll be able to light up Allegiant Stadium. The team certainly found something against UNC, and they can continue it this weekend. I see a victory in the desert happening and a continuation of a perfect Shamrock Series record.
Notre Dame 28, BYU 17