Notre Dame Football: Fighting Irish Can't Be Caught Looking Ahead

Tony GiardinaCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2012

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 13:  Matthias Farley #41 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish breaks away from Levine Toilolo#11 of the Standford Cardinal after intercepting a pass at Notre Dame Stadium on October 13, 2012 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Stanford 20-13 in overtime.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Notre Dame is off to their first 6-0 start since 2002, debuting at No. 5 in the BCS Standings this week.

Back in 2002, the Fighting Irish made it all the way to 8-0 before losing to a 4-3 Boston College team at home. They finished the season at 10-3 with a loss in the Gator Bowl. To avoid another disappointing end to a promising season, Notre Dame has to see BYU as a true test this Saturday and not get caught looking ahead to next week's matchup against No. 9 Oklahoma.

The BYU Cougars come into Notre Dame at 4-3, but have played well lately. After losing by one point at Boise State on September 20, they defeated Hawaii and Utah State at home. Last week they hung close with No. 10 Oregon State, staying within four points mid-fourth quarter until the Beavers took control and blew the game wide open.

The defenses will be in the spotlight Saturday as both teams rank in the top ten in points allowed. BYU is giving up 13.6 points per game, but struggled against Oregon State in their 42-24 loss. Notre Dame has been lights out, giving up just one touchdown over their last four games. The lone touchdown was actually scored on an Everett Golson fumble, so the defense had no part in it.

For the Cougars to have a legitimate shot on Saturday, Riley Nelson needs to limit his turnovers. His three interceptions against Oregon State gave the game away. Nelson needs to be able to keep his team in the game and at least give his defense a shot against the unproven Notre Dame offense.

Everett Golson is a game-time decision for the Irish, and if he can't go Brian Kelly will turn to either Tommy Rees or Andrew Hendrix to lead the offense (via ESPN). If Golson doesn't play, it could mean more issues for Notre Dame's shaky offense.

It may look like a decisive win for the Irish on paper, but if they get caught looking ahead to Oklahoma, their National Title hopes may vanish at the hands of BYU.