Like the old saying goes The Cougars suffered the agony of defeat. Or more like “de’ feet."
The Fighting Irish rushing attack carried the team to victory once again with a 17-14 win over BYU in South Bend on Saturday. Despite BYU boasting the nation’s third best defense against the run, Notre Dame RB Theo Riddick and his career-high 143 running yards led a stout Fighting Irish ground attack that gained 270 yards.
Fellow RB and housemate Cierre Wood added 114 and RB George Atkinson III scored the game winning score on two-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.
The Notre Dame running game was particularly important in the second half when the the passing attack stalled to a mere three passing attempts by starting QB Tommy Reese. Starting off hot in place of injured freshman Everett Golson, Reese completed 6 of 7 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown in the first quarter. He hooked up with All-American TE Tyler Eifert with a 4-yard pass.
Eiffert played up to his All-American billing accruing 73 yards and one touchdown.
The Irish had not let up an offensive touchdown in 17 quarters until BYU QB Riley Nelson threw a touchdown pass to WR Cody Hoffman and TE Keneaku Friel in a span of 2:18.
The blue and gold defense was still quite formidable in yesterday’s close win. It racked up 4 sacks, including 1.5 by sack leader Stephon Tuitt who has 7.5 total in 7 games. Manti T’eo intercepted his 4th pass of the season (second all-time in Fighting Irish history) and added another ten tackles for a total of 79 in his Heisman campaign. Notre Dame has only yielded 66 points total on the season, its lowest total since 1976 (64).
Coach Brian Kelly was proud of this gritty win over an unranked BYU, team that plays better than listed on paper. He wishes his players would appreciate their effort more.
“The thing that was concerning for me the most is when our guys came in, and I didn’t sense a great feeling after winning a tough, tough football game,” said Kelly. ”And that’s a team that won ten games last year. That’s a bracket-buster team team in basketball parlance, that’s a darned good football team. Our kids hung in there and won the football game. So we are really pleased to be 7-0.”
The Fighting Irish play No. 9 Oklahoma next week on the road at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.