In their 17-14 win over BYU, Notre Dame once again proved college football’s oldest adage: It doesn’t matter whether you win pretty or win ugly. Just as long as you win, baby.
For the Irish, that is a credo they’ve been living by all year. And it’s one they put to the test against BYU on Saturday.
Simply put, the Irish’s performance against BYU could hardly be called vintage, and to be blunt, they were lucky to hold on to win. Notre Dame fell behind 14-7 at halftime, with their defense looking uncharacteristically sloppy. Those 14 points were the first offensive touchdowns the Irish had given up since early September.
Luckily though, when the Irish needed to make plays, they did. The defense pitched a shutout in the second half, and offensive got a boost from a huge and unlikely play.
That play came with Notre Dame trailing 14-7 late in the third, when Theo Riddick was thought to be brought down by a tackler on a crucial third down, before staying on his feet and ripping off a 55-yard run. While the run didn’t result in a touchdown, it did lead to the Irish chipping into BYU’s lead with a field goal to make the score 14-10. The Irish were able to put the game away a few minutes later, when George Atkinson punched in a two-yard run early in the fourth.
But the bottom line is whether it was pretty or ugly, the Irish do just keep finding ways to win. After “stopping” Stanford on the goal line last week, it was the offense which came through this Saturday and put up the points late when the team needed them. In the process the Irish improved to 7-0, and remain in the National Championship hunt.
The question of course now becomes whether or not the Irish can stay there. Obviously, that’s not a shot at Notre Dame, but also a realistic assessment of how much works remains for the Irish to stay undefeated against a brutal remaining schedule.
It starts next week against an Oklahoma club which entered Saturday at 4-1 and off an epic 63-21 beat down of Texas last week in Dallas. It’s safe to say the Irish haven’t seen an offense anywhere near dynamic as what they’ll get next week in Norman, against a Sooners club which is averaging 43 points a game. Then again, Oklahoma hasn’t played anyone with the defense which Notre Dame will bring with them either. And even if Notre Dame were to survive next week they’ve still got a tough close to the schedule, most notably at USC on November 24.
It’s safe to say that as much hard work as Notre Dame has put in so far, there’s plenty more to come.
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