Five things: BYU-Notre Dame

November, 23, 2013
11/23/13
7:00
AM ET
Notre Dame hosts BYU this afternoon (3:30 ET, ABC) in a battle of 7-3 teams. Here are five things watch out for when both teams take the field for the Irish's Senior Day

Senior Day. Notre Dame is honoring 33 seniors before kickoff in a ceremony that is sure to be emotional for many of these players. Some had joined the program under Charlie Weis, while others seemingly were committed to no particular coach, part of the transition between Weis and Brian Kelly. Once the game starts, however, the Irish need to control their emotions and play even-keeled. They were able to do this last year in a 38-0 Senior Day rout of Wake Forest, but they are facing a much better team this year in BYU.

Tommy Rees. This is it at home for the senior quarterback, who has been cheered, booed and called everything from savior to goat to everything in-between. What kind of outing can we expect from Rees in his Notre Dame Stadium finale? Many thought he was past the kind of mistakes he made two weeks ago in a costly loss at Pitt, but he usually has been at his best when the stage has been the biggest, and perhaps his efforts will be recognized beforehand, given the #ThankTommy movement that has been generating some steam on Twitter this week.

Defensive line. Louis Nix is out for the season. His No. 2, Kona Schwenke, is less than 100 percent, and who really knows just how close. Jarron Jones and Isaac Rochell are playing in their first contests since suffering ankle sprains, too. Against a BYU offense that likes to move at a very fast pace, the Irish need as many healthy bodies as possible to keep up. They already were just holding it together before Nix went down, so his loss could end up proving crucial.

Taysom Hill. Hill was not a part of last year's game, but he might just be the difference this year as BYU looks to redeem itself after losing a game at Notre Dame Stadium last year that it thought it should have won. Hill has thrown for 2,379 yards and 16 touchdowns on the season, but he is a real threat on the run, as he is second among quarterbacks nationally with 956 rushing yards. He has 12 picks this year, too, so the Irish will need to take advantage of some of his mistakes.

Ground game. What, you thought we would make it an entire Saturday without hitting on this point? Notre Dame's last outing was George Atkinson III's time to shine, if you consider his whopping six carries just that. (Cam McDaniel also had nine.) Tarean Folston looked better than any of them three weeks ago against Navy but had just four carries for 13 yards the following week. Someone will need to step up for the Irish against the Cougars, as Notre Dame would be wise to have something to fall on in the backfield to help give its banged-up defense some much-needed rest against an offense that will look to tire it out soon.

Matt Fortuna | email

College Football

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