Notre Dame defeated BYU in an ugly game. The Fighting Irish did not play up to their potential. There were many negatives. However, there were a few positives that can be lifted from this game. Here are some of them:
Running The Ball
BYU ranks 8th nationally in rushing defense with 93.13 yards per game allowed. On Saturday, Notre Dame pounded the Cougars for 270 yards on the ground. The highest previous total against Brigham Young was 118 yards against Oregon State. One of the bright spots at Running Back was Senior Theo Riddick who had 15 carries for 143 yards. Prior to this output, Riddick’s best game was against the Naval Academy when he ran for 107 yards. His rushing yards were the difference in the game for the Offense. Cierre Wood added 114 yards on the ground for the Fighting Irish. This was Wood’s second best rushing performance of the season behind his 118 yard performance versus Miami (FL). At this point in the season, if Notre Dame can run on a Top 10 Defense then they can run on virtually anyone.
Notre Dame Avoids Trap
Notre Dame needed to be mentally tough to come out of Saturday with a victory. BYU had enough talent on the roster to pull off the upset. Notre Dame was coming off an emotional victory against Stanford and had a big game looming with Oklahoma. The Fighting Irish could fall easily into a trap. And they may have as the first few quarters demonstrated. However, the Irish fought back. The Defense did not allow a single point in the second half while the Offense scored 10 points to take the lead. Dealing with the rigors of a Notre Dame schedule are not easy but this team showed how it is done on Saturday versus BYU.
The Senior Inside Linebacker from Hawaii continues to have an impact in every game that he plays. This game was no different. Te’o recorded 10 more tackles to boost his total to 69 on the season. He also intercepted a Reilly Nelson pass, which was his 4th interception on the season. 4 interceptions ranks him tied for 4th on the national list. Te’o is currently ranked 4th on ESPN’s Heisman Watch and 2nd on the New York Times’ Heisman Watch. It is unlikely that a linebacker would win the award but an invite to New York would be a victory in itself for Manti Te’o and the University of Notre Dame.
Notre Dame Wins the Turnover Margin
This is critical for any team in the country. But with how the Offense plays, it is even more important that the Offense take advantage of every opportunity that it has. On Saturday, BYU Quarterback Reilly Nelson was intercepted two times while Tommy Rees was only intercepted once. Ultimately, the interception thrown by Rees was not his fault but that is how the ball bounces sometimes. Notre Dame has been doing a good job at winning the turnover margin though. The Fighting Irish are 12th in the nation with +1.29 turnovers per game.