It was a fitting way to end the game and a season-long theme, really.
With 12 seconds left, BYU quarterback Riley Nelson heaved a desperate pass that ended up in the hands of Notre Dame defender Danny Spond.
Another week, another nail-bitter, another win.
And so, Brian Kelly’s undefeated season rolls right along, and the Irish narrowly avoided a letdown that many pegged as a possibility. Or perhaps, this wasn’t a letdown at all, but instead, just more of what we’ve seen all year.
Coming off their tremendous (and hotly debated) goal-line stop against Stanford in overtime last week, and with a trip to Oklahoma only a week away, BYU came to town as nearly a live two-touchdown underdog.
The two teams have very similar makeups. Wonderful defenses—especially their front sevens—and major issues on offense. The game was expected to be ugly, and it lived up to that billing.
As has been the theme all year, Notre Dame beat BYU with defense and by running the football. They finally gave up an offensive touchdown—two, actually—but they were as tremendous as advertised.
The defensive line harassed quarterback Riley Nelson throughout the game, and while he did have some success through the air, BYU totaled just 243 yards of total offense.
On offense, Tommy Rees struggled at times, although his lone interception was a ball his wide receiver should have caught. The running game, however, was superb, and Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood combined for 257 yards on 33 carries.
They overcame two missed field goals once again—another theme this year—and avoided the letdown. Or perhaps, the ugly formula worked brilliantly once again. At this point, it's hard to tell which applies.
Forget about numbers, however. The only number that matters for Notre Dame right now is seven—seven wins, zero losses. We didn’t think that this Notre Dame team would be heading into Norman, Okla., unbeaten before the season began, but that is very much the case.
A season-changing game awaits, and while there is much to be excited about in South Bend, ugly football will only take them so far.
Notre Dame’s defense will get its biggest test in a hostile, road environment, and the offense is going to have to make plays. Oklahoma has been vulnerable to the run this year, something Notre Dame will try and take advantage of, but it likely won’t be enough.
They need to get production out of their passing game, or they will lose. It's that simple.
Following the win against BYU, Brian Kelly made it quite clear that Everett Golson will be back next week and will indeed be his starter.
#NotreDame HC Brian Kelly says QB Everett Golson will start against Oklahoma in post-game sideline interview.— Irish Illustrated (@NDatRivals) October 20, 2012
How big of a lift will this be for the Irish? Although he has been inconsistent, Golson’s mobility and athleticism will be huge against Oklahoma. While Rees has done well coming out of the bullpen, Golson still gives them the best opportunity to win. He will need to play his best game, however, if they want to stay unbeaten.
Will Notre Dame beat Oklahoma next week?
The secondary—which was talked about quite a bit heading into the season—has yet to be tested. Landry Jones and an improving passing game will be the best offense this team has seen, and frankly, it’s not all that close. The defense will be solid, as usual, but it will need help.
Notre Dame will be required to score points, and if Oklahoma comes out with the same intensity and execution that we saw against Texas A&M and Texas, then the Irish certainly will have their hands full.
It's been a magical run for Brian Kelly's crew, thus far, and there's absolutely nothing we can take away from what they've been able to accomplish this year. Still, however, the current formula can only take them so far.
Winning ugly may not be an option next week.