A week after a disheartening loss at home to 10th-ranked Oregon State, the BYU Cougars will have an even tougher test this Saturday in South Bend, Indiana. The Cougars will be facing fifth-ranked Notre Dame, who is undefeated and hasn't lost a home game since midway through last season.
A two-touchdown underdog, the Cougs will need to limit their turnovers—and find their formerly stellar defense—to come out with a win against the Irish. So, here is a preview of how BYU can pull it off.
Who: BYU (4-3) at No. 5 Notre Dame (6-0)
When: Saturday, October 20th, 3:30 p.m. (EDT)
Where: South Bend, IN
Stadium: Notre Dame Stadium (80,795)
Radio: KSL Radio 1160 AM, 102.7 FM and ksl.com
Offense (Starters in bold)
QB: Riley Nelson, James Lark
RB: Jamaal Williams, David Foote, Iona Pritchard
WR: Cody Hoffman, Ross Apo, JD Falslev; Skyler Ridley, Dallin Cutler, David Foote
TE: Kaneakua Friel, Austin Holt
LT: Ryker Mathews, Michael Yeck
LG: Solomone Kafu
C: Braden Hansen, Blair Tushaus
RG: Manaaki Vaitai, Brock Stringham
RT: Braden Brown, Manaaki Vaitai
K: Justin Sorensen
P: Riley Stephenson
LS: Reed Hornung
H: JD Falslev
LE: Ezekiel Ansah, Mike Muehlmann
DT: Romney Fuga, Simote Vea
RE: Russell Tialavea, Ezekiel Ansah
LB: Spencer Hadley, Alani Fua
MLB: Uona Kaveinga, Zac Stout
LB: Brandon Ogletree, Manoa Pikula
OLB: Kyle Van Noy, Jherremya Leuta-Douyere
CB: Jordan Johnson, Micah Hannemann, Robbie Buckner
CB: Preston Hadley, Skye PoVey
SS: Daniel Sorensen, Craig Bills
FS: Joe Sampson, Mike Hague
PR: JD Falslev
KR: Joe Sampson, Mike Hague
QB: Everett Golson, Tommy Rees
RB: Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick, George Atkinson III, Cam McDaniel
WR: TJ Jones, Robby Toma, DaVaris Daniels; John Goodman, Davonte' Neal, Daniel Smith
TE: Tyler Eifert, Ben Koyack
LT: Zack Martin, Ronnie Stanley
RT: Christian Lombard, Nick Martin
C: Braxston Cave, Mike Golic, Jr.
LG: Chris Watt, Conor Hanratty
RG: Mike Golic, Jr., Conor Hanratty
DE: Kapron Lewis-Moore, Sheldon Day
DE: Stephon Tuitt, Tony Springmann
NG: Louis Nix III, Kona Schwenke
LB: Prince Shembo, Ishaq Williams
LB: Dan Fox, Carlo Calabrese
LB: Manti Te'o, Jarrett Grace
LB: Danny Spond, Ben Councell
CB: Bennett Jackson, Jalen Brown
CB: KeiVarae Russell, Josh Atkinson
FS: Zeke Motta, Nicky Baratti
SS: Matthias Farley, Chris Salvi
K: Kyle Brindza
P: Ben Turk
KR: George Atkinson
PR: Davonte Neal
Although they say, "You look good, you feel good, you play good," that was not the case for the Cougars last week. Despite sporting new black uniforms, they fell 42-24 to Oregon State.
Riley Nelson played in his first game since Week 4, and while throwing for 305 yards and a touchdown, he threw three picks (two of which led directly to OSU points). Jamaal Williams ran for only 36 yards off of 15 carries and two touchdowns, while Cody Hoffman snagged 10 passes for 102 yards.
Notre Dame slipped away from Stanford on Saturday, winning 20-13 in overtime. Before receiving a concussion late in the game, sophomore quarterback Everett Golson threw for 141 yards and a touchdown with no picks.
Tommy Rees led the team to victory in the overtime period, completing all four of his passes and a touchdown. The defense was able to stand strong at the end, when they prevented Stanford from entering the end zone.
BYU is coming off of a tough loss and could send waves through the country by beating the Irish at home. Also, the Cougar defense didn't have a great time against Oregon State and needs to regain confidence against Notre Dame.
The Fighting Irish have beaten marquee teams so far this season, including Stanford, Michigan and Michigan State, and are in no place to lose to a 4-3 BYU team. If they want any shot at a national championship, they will need to win the rest of their games.
Riley Nelson had a good game in his first start since September; well, the first half, at least. In the first two quarters, Nelson had over 100 yards passing, a touchdown and an interception. In the second half, more yards came, along with two picks and no end-zone appearances.
Against a tough Irish defense, he can't make the risky throws that he often does. Nelson will need to play smart, and limit turnovers while making big plays. If he can do this, we will see.
Everett Golson put together 178 yards against Michigan State's seventh-ranked defense, one of his lower numbers for the year. Despite throwing zero interceptions, he had a tough time getting things rolling on offense.
BYU's defense is ranked fifth, and is gifted when it comes to putting pressure on the quarterback. If Golson can't produce for Notre Dame, the Irish offense will have a hard time scoring.
I can't see BYU leaving South Bend with a win, considering how both teams have played in the past two games. If the Cougs can play lockdown defense and score on offense, they may win, but I don't think they will do enough to win.
My Prediction: Notre Dame wins, 24-17