BYU Cougars at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
When: 3:30 PM ET, Saturday, October 20, 2012
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
Off to its first 6-0 start since 2002, Notre Dame Fighting Irish is climbing the polls behind a defense that hasn’t allowed a touchdown in its last four games. One week before their much-anticipated game at Oklahoma, the No. 5 Fighting Irish host fellow independent Brigham Young, which faded in the fourth quarter last Saturday in a 42-24 loss to Oregon State. Notre Dame and BYU feature two of the top defensive teams in the nation, but the Irish have moved to another level in recent weeks.
The Irish rank first in the nation in red zone defense, and have limited each of their past five opponents to less than 300 total yards. Notre Dame's fifth-ranked pass-efficiency defense could mean trouble for BYU Cougars quarterback Riley Nelson, who threw three interceptions last week after sitting out the previous two games with a back injury.
BYU Cougars (4-3): BYU was allowing 8.8 points per game before Oregon State snapped the Cougars’ 12-game streak of holding opponents to less than 300 total yards by exploding for 42 points on 450 total yards and five touchdowns. Linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Brandon Ogletree lead the defense with 7.5 sacks and 57 tackles, respectively. On offense, 17-year old freshman Jamaal Williams has a team-high five rushing touchdowns, while wide receiver Cody Hoffman has caught a pass in 26 straight games, tied for the 10th-longest streak in the nation. Nelson received a vote of confidence from coach Bronco Mendenhall after last week’s game, but will need to improve on his 6-to-8 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-0): While the Irish defense has allowed only 8.6 points per game, their quarterback situation remains unsettled. Redshirt freshman Everett Golson sustained a concussion in last Saturday’s 20-13 overtime victory over Stanford, and will likely share time with Tommy Rees even if he’s cleared to play. Golson has shown flashes of brilliance this season, but is also responsible for all seven turnovers by the Irish. Tight end Tyler Eifert has 246 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 15 catches, while senior linebacker Manti Te'o has entered the Heisman Trophy race after recording a team-high 59 tackles and two fumble recoveries with three interceptions. Notre Dame has already forced 15 turnovers through its first six games after causing 14 all of last season.
1. The Irish are 146-46-2 in October games at Notre Dame Stadium.
2. BYU has outscored opponents 64-6 in the second quarter.
3. Notre Dame is 6-1 in its last seven games decided by a touchdown or less.