Tale of the Tape for Notre Dame football vs. BYU

Mike Berardino
ND Insider


A resurgent run game (287 yards in the win at North Carolina) will look to dominate a BYU rushing defense rated 119th in efficiency, according to Pro Football Focus. Drew Pyne, yet to throw an interception as the starting quarterback, has passed for five touchdowns in the past two wins and should have plenty of time against a BYU pass rush rated 111th by PFF-College. Cougars starting cornerback Gabe Jeudy-Lally, a Vanderbilt graduate transfer, had his targeting penalty against Utah State overturned on appeal. BYU has a plus-4 turnover margin, including a pair of interception returns for touchdowns, both by junior linebacker Max Tooley.

Edge: Notre Dame


Notre Dame has just one takeaway (unforced fumble recovery at UNC) and a minus-4 turnover margin overall. The Cougars have lost just one turnover, a Jaren Hall interception in the season opener at South Florida. Hall, who turned 24 in March, has 144 pass attempts and 10 touchdown passes since that lone interception. Notre Dame is 103rd in coverage efficiency, per, and has allowed nine touchdown passes. Just three other FBS defenses are still without an interception: Michigan State, Fresno State and Ohio. Despite a highly regarded left side of the offensive line – LT Blake Freeland (6-8, 305 pounds, 33 starts) and LG Clark Barrington (6-6, 305, 32 starts) – the Cougars had a sack-adjusted first-half rushing total of minus-12 yards against Utah State (113th in rushing defense) on Sept. 29. The other three offensive line starters, including Oregon freshman transfer Kingsley Suamataia (6-6 325) at right tackle, have a combined 30 career starts.

Edge: BYU

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Notre Dame is 36th in special teams efficiency, per Pro Football Focus, and BYU is 39th. BYU kickers have missed five of their past seven field-goal attempts, and Jacob Oldroyd (4 of 9 from 30-plus yards) has a season-long of 45 yards. Harvard grad transfer Jon Sot ranks 14th nationally at 45.6 yards per punt for Notre Dame. Brandon Joseph, the Northwestern transfer, was more aggressive last time out and averaged 14.3 yards on his three punt returns.

Edge: Notre Dame


Former BYU fullback Kalani Sitake, in his seventh season coaching his alma mater, joins Brian Kelly, Nick Saban and Dabo Swinney as the only Power Five or independent coaches with double-digit wins the past two seasons. Born in Tonga, Sitake was a three-year starter for Hall of Fame coach LaVell Edwards and spent one season (2002) as a graduate assistant for the Cougars. Their roster includes transfers from at least 13 different four-year schools, including Pac-12 members Stanford, Cal, Washington, Oregon State, Oregon and Arizona State; along with Vanderbilt, Navy, New Mexico, Boise State and Utah State. Well-traveled offensive line coach Darrell Funk spent the 2016 season on the same ill-fated Purdue staff as Marcus Freeman and Irish tight ends coach Gerad Parker. Freeman will try to keep Notre Dame (a four-point betting favorite) perfect in 11 Shamrock Series contests, dating to 2009. The only other time the unranked Irish have been the lower-rated team in the Shamrock Series was 2013, when they nipped No. 22 Arizona State 37-34 in Arlington, Texas.

Edge: Notre Dame

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TOM NOIE: Notre Dame 34, BYU 21 — Irish collectively unlocked something against North Carolina. Expect to see more of it out in the desert.

MIKE BERARDINO: Notre Dame 31, BYU 17 — The well-rested Irish double down on their rediscovered physicality, leaving these Cougars feeling rejected.  

MICHAEL WANBAUGH: Notre Dame 31, BYU 28 — For the second time in 11 Shamrock Series games, an unranked Irish team faces a ranked opponent. Notre Dame won the first time and will run its way to victory this time.

JUSTIN FROMMER: Notre Dame 33, BYU 21 — Notre Dame builds on its offensive success in Chapel Hill to beat BYU in Sin City.