Week 8 – BYU at Notre Dame

Posted Oct 19, 2012

Week 8 Fearless Prediction & Game Analysis – BYU at Notre Dame

BYU (4-3) at Notre Dame (6-0) Oct. 20, 3:30, NBC

Here's The Deal: And now the fun begins.

With the controversial win over Stanford, Notre Dame not only stayed unbeaten to get to 6-0, but it also proved that it's deep in the national title chase with several big battles left to go. The team can't take a week off, and it's going to be in for a fight against a great BYU defense, but it's going to be hard to not look ahead to the huge spotlight showdown at Oklahoma before getting a few light breathers to tune up for the date with USC. The Irish defense is rocking, the offense is rumbling, and nervous Irish fans who didn't dare believe that impossible could come true can start thinking that the national title shot really might be within reach. However, getting by BYU won't be easy for a team that struggles to put up points.

The Cougars aren't going to a BCS game and are locked into the Poinsettia Bowl if they get to six wins, so this is it. This is their bowl game, national championship and statement moment all wrapped up in one. This is it. Nothing the team has done all year will matter or will be remembered if it can ruin the Irish's dream year, and it could happen if the nation's fifth-best defense can hold firm and if the offense can find something that unlocks the nasty Notre Dame defensive front.

Don't expect lots of points or lots of offense in a knockdown, nasty game that should come down to mistakes and opportunistic moments.

The two independents have only met six times with Notre Dame winning the last game 49-23 in 2005. The Irish leads the series 4-2.

Why BYU Might Win: Defense, defense, defense. Notre Dame doesn't have the type of offense that will come out and roll up 50 points with a high-octane passing game and a devastating ground attack. This is a tough, grinding team that relies on its defense not breaking and lives off of not making mistakes. The Cougar pass rush has been tremendous and getting into the backfield hasn't been a problem, but it didn't seem to matter much last week against Oregon State, who threw for 332 yards and three scores. Notre Dame doesn't have that sort of passing game, and the Cougars aren't allowing much of anything on the ground stoning the Utah State spread giving up just 41 yards, stuffing Boise State allowing just 116 yards, and not giving ground to anyone trying to use a little bit of power. The Cougars are going to be ready to handle the street fight.

Why Notre Dame Might Win: The BYU offense doesn't exactly have Robbie Bosco or Steve Young winging it around. The passing game is horribly inefficient and the running game isn't strong enough to make a dent in the impenetrable Irish defensive front. There's no way, no how anyone with an offense this mediocre and inconsistent can came out of South Bend with a win without dominating the turnover battle, but the Cougars are a bit too mistake-prone with 14 turnovers on the year including three picks last week against the Beavers. Meanwhile, the defense, as good as it has been, isn't coming up with a slew of takeaways with just to picks since the opener against Washington State and just three recovered fumbles outside of the Weber State win. This isn't 2011; Notre Dame isn't screwing up. Tenth in the nation in turnover margin, the Irish lost three fumbles last week against Stanford in an aberration; the big mistakes aren't coming.

What To Watch Out For: Is there a quarterback controversy at Notre Dame? After Everett Golson got knocked out of the Stanford game with a concussion, Tommy Rees stepped in and was brilliant to lead the way to the win. Golson struggled against the Cardinal and made a few too many mistakes, but he's still the X factor type of playmaker for the offense that needs a little bit of pop. Rees is a great relief pitcher, but unless Golson has several big problems, there won't be a change. For BYU, Riley Nelson returned after missing time banged up, and he rolled up 305 yards with 29 more on the ground against Oregon State. The problem was picks – he gave away three. He's a smart, strong veteran who won't be fazed by the big moment, but he has to play the game of his life.

What Will Happen: Notre Dame doesn't do anything easy. It's going to take a while to put the game away, and there will be several nervous moments, but the BYU offense isn't going to get moving and won't be able to answer a few early Irish scores.

CFN Prediction: Notre Dame 23 … BYU 12
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Notre Dame -13.5 O/U: 40
Must Watch Rating (5 – Seven Psychopaths, 1 – Here Comes the Boom): 4