While the BYU Football team has fallen onto a series of “Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda” moments this season, fellow independent and this week’s opponent Notre Dame has risen to stake its claim once again as a national powerhouse. Notre Dame has risen to as high as No. 5 in the latest rankings (the school’s highest ranking since 2006) after a dramatic, controversial win over Stanford.
After the Fighting Irish squeaked past the Cardinals on a scrappy, disputed goal line stand Saturday, the national attention on this week’s match-up is almost entirely focused on Notre Dame. Even when they’re not wining at this level, the country’s largest private Catholic school usually garners plenty of attention anyway, polarizing the college football landscape and even playing ping pong with ESPN reporters. The Cougars, who are looking to redeem themselves after surrendering 42 points to now 8th ranked Oregon State over the weekend, probably want it this way — a situation in which they have nothing to lose from getting beat, and everything to gain — at least as far as national respect is concerned from pulling off the upset.
Despite the fact that the Cougar defense showed clear signs of weakness versus the Beavers’ high octane pass attack, Riley Nelson led a scoring resurgence in his return. The Cougars continue to hold a reputation for being a defense-first squad. Interestingly, the Fighting Irish are also known for their staunch defense, as their offense has been besieged by quarterback controversy and inconsistency.
Will either offense be able to score this weekend? So far BYU has shown more cracks in their armor, and Notre Dame will be highly favored in South Bend; but as the 2012 season has demonstrated so far, anything can happen on any given Saturday.