BYU vs Notre Dame

Perhaps the most compelling game on the college football schedule this week is the clash between the no. 16 BYU Cougars and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Notre Dame has gotten the better of his matchup historically, although the two teams haven’t met since 2013. For Saturday’s game, the Irish are considered 3.5-point home favorites with the over/under set at 51.5 points.

After a slow start to the season, Notre Dame appears to be getting on track under first-year head coach Marcus Freeman. The Irish started the year 0-2 with losses to Ohio State and Marshall. But after a close win over Cal and a 45-32 win over North Carolina last week, Notre Dame is 2-2 and hoping to keep it going.

Meanwhile, the Cougars have made themselves nationally relevant again after a 4-1 start. BYU stumbled a few weeks ago in a 41-20 loss to Oregon. But they’ve bounced back with wins over Wyoming and Utah State while also beating Baylor earlier this season.

Kids in the Hall

BYU quarterback Jaren Hall is quickly putting himself in conversations about the Heisman and the NFL Draft. Through five games, he’s completed 70% of his passes while throwing 12 touchdown passes and just one interception. The Cougars are doing their best to stay balanced with a steady rushing attack, although it’s Hall who’s taken them to another level, allowing BYU to average over 34 points per game.

Unfortunately, it remains to be seen if the Cougars have the defensive talent to be a top-10 caliber team. BYU has allowed at least 20 points in every game this season, including 50 total points over the last two games against teams from the Mountain West. If the Oregon game was a litmus test for the Cougars, they undoubtedly failed, struggling to put up much resistance against the Ducks and their balanced attack.

Off the Pyne

Despite starting the season as the backup quarterback, Drew Pyne has started to get the Notre Dame offense cranking after taking over for the injured Tyler Buchner. Pyne has five touchdown passes and no interceptions in the two games he’s started, leading the Irish to 69 total points in those two games. The caveat is that Notre Dame has a solid but unspectacular rushing attack and not much of a downfield passing attack with just one wide receiver on the roster who has more than seven catches this season.

That means Freeman’s defense will have to do a lot of the heavy lifting moving forward. Despite giving up 32 points last week to North Carolina, the Irish were solid defensively for most of the game, limiting the Tar Heels to just 66 rushing yards. They’ve also shown plenty of promise defensively, even in their losses, especially with a strong defensive line.

Irish Cooking

The Cougars will head to South Bend with the best quarterback on the field. However, Notre Dame’s defense, especially at home, will be tough for Hall, whereas the BYU defense has proven to be far less reliable. Look for the Fighting Irish to get a defensive stop when they need one, enabling them to earn a much-needed win while scoring just enough points to cover the spread.

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