- Matt Fortuna, College Football
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Can Notre Dame make it 4-0 on Senior Day under Brian Kelly?
When BYU has the ball: As you may have heard, the Cougars like to pick up the tempo on offense. They are fourth in the nation in total plays, having run 868 on the season. That's an average of 86.8 per game. By comparison, Notre Dame runs 64.6 plays per game. Taysom Hill is a threat at all times on the field, and likely the most effective dual-threat quarterback the Irish will have faced this year, as he is second among quarterbacks with 956 rushing yards this season. His favorite target, Cody Hoffman, had a nice day last year in South Bend, Ind., catching eight balls for 86 yards and a touchdown.
When Notre Dame has the ball: Who emerges from the backfield this week is anyone's guess, though a nice run game could help keep a depleted defense off the field a bit more against a BYU offense that moves at a rapid pace. Tommy Rees and TJ Jones have been a reliable connection all season long, and look for them to keep that going in their home finales against a good but not great defense. The continued emergence of Ben Koyack in the passing game can help open things up for the rest of the aerial attack, too.
Intangible: This is Senior Day, so the Irish need to guard against the emotions and potential sloppy play in the early going. They also need to rely on a lot of people to chip in defensively, especially with Louis Nix III now out and his backup, Kona Schwenke, at less than 100 percent. BYU knows it was a missed pass away from pulling out an upset against the Irish late last season, and the Cougars are determined to finish the job this time around.
Prediction: BYU 23, Notre Dame 20. I was leaning in the Irish's direction earlier this week, but the loss of Nix -- on top of some of the other guys at less than 100 percent -- is just too much to overcome against this good, and this fast, of a Cougars team.
Can Notre Dame make it 4-0 on Senior Day under Brian Kelly?When BYU has the ball: As you may have heard, the Cougars like to pick up the tempo on offense.