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For the first time in what seems like 20 years, Notre Dame is legitimately a top-10 team, though there are some weaknesses in that facade.
A defense giving up under 10 points a game is definitely something to crow about, and the Fighting Irish's 8.7 points allowed per contest is enough to be ranked second in the nation this year. Their running game is also potent, gaining an average of 181 yards per game on the ground. It's been said for decades, to win a championship the game of football, you need a good defense and a solid run game. Notre Dame seems set here.
Their passing game? Not so much. Sophomore quarterback Everett Golson has completed 58% of his passes for 968 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions on the year. Translation: he doesn't throw a whole lot, and he's not super great when he does. But hey, with a running game and defense like this one backing him up, the coaches don't need a whole lot, right?
That's the good news for BYU. If there's one thing we think we know about this Cougar defense, it's that they can stop the run. The pass, not so much. But it's hard to consistently get off long runs against this front seven, especially if they aren't worrying as much about the quarterback.
Riley Nelson is set to start tomorrow, and that means a vaguely competent quarterbacking performance speckled with moments of horror. Freshman running back Jamaal Williams shows promise, but hasn't really had a breakout game yet. And against Irish linebacker Manti Te'o waiting for him, I don't expect a big day from Jamaal.
So onward to tomorrow, a game in which I expect BYU to lose by 30 if the defense can't pull it together, and a game BYU will lose by 10.