In a matchup that has all the makings of a trap game, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish meet the Brigham Young Cougars Saturday afternoon at Notre Dame Stadium.
The undefeated Irish survived a scare from No. 20 Stanford last week in their 20-13 overtime win, and earned a Top 5 spot in the Bowl Championship Series rankings.
Kicker Kyle Brindza booted a 22-yard field goal with :20 left in the regulation to force overtime, and reserve quarterback Tommy Rees stepped in for concussed starter Everett Golson to hit receiver TJ Jones for a seven-yard score and the victory.
Stanford held a 13-10 lead with 6:12 left, but the Irish responded with a 12-play 79-yard drive that led to Brindza’s game-tying field goal. Golson left in the middle of the drive, but returned to practice this week.
Still head coach Brian Kelly named Rees the starter Saturday, after Rees took most of the snaps during practice this week.
Kelly and the rest of the Irish said they are not looking beyond BYU to next week’s game against powerful Oklahoma.
The Cougars, meanwhile, are looking for a huge turnaround after their crushing 42-21 home loss to Oregon State last week. BYU’s fifth ranked defense failed to stymie the Beavers attack in the fourth quarter, despite facing a quarterback in Cody Vaz who hadn’t taken a snap in two years.
Vaz lit up the Cougars for 332 yards and three touchdowns, and receivers Brandin Cooks and Markus Wheaton were the main beneficiaries, combining for 13 receptions and 239 yards and two touchdowns. Wheaton also had one rush for a 12-yard touchdown scamper.
Oregon State posted a 21-7 fourth quarter, capped by a 49-yard interception return by Jordan Poyer with 4:58 left in the game, and BYU’s defense dropped to seventh in the country, with an average let up of 13.6 points per game
Freshman running back Jamaal Williams ran for two touchdowns but only gained 36 yards on 15 carries against the Beaver’s rush defense, and faces an even stiffer test against Notre Dame’s front line led by linebacker Manti Te’o and tackle Louis Nix.
The contest begins at 3:30 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast by NBC.
Betting Odds: Notre Dame is favored by 14 points
Over/Under: 40 points
Prediction: Rees has an opportunity to takeover the starting spot from Golson, as long as he keeps the Irish running game humming. BYU's defense has something to prove after their blowout loss, and should take advantage of Rees three games of experience this season for the win.
Predicted Score: BYU 24, Notre Dame 17