Notre Dame has had a week to think about the Pittsburgh loss and the season it cost them. The loss knocked them out of the BCS bowl picture and into subpar bowl schedule. More on that later.
Brian Kelly and his staff blew it two weeks ago and that makes me doubtful that he is the man who will win another national title for the Irish. As I stated last week, to be a program at the level of Alabama and the like, you don't lose to a 4-4 Pitt team when there is so much on the line. Good teams, and good coaches, win those games.
Today the Irish host the BYU Cougars in the final home game of the 2013 season. The senior members of the team will be honored along with their parents. The game will be for pride, nothing else. ND let its season on the turf in Pittsburgh last week.
The Cougars enter the game with a very respectiable 7-3 record. BYU's seven wins were against Texas, 40-21; Middle Tennessee, 37-10; Utah State, 31-14; Georgia Tech, 38-20; Houstion, 47-46; Boise State, 37-20; and last week, Idaho State, 59-13. The three losses have been to Virginia, 19-16; Utah, 20-13; and Wisconsin, 27-17.
The Cougars are led by Quarterback Taysom Hill, who has completed 176 passes out of 336 with 16 touchdowns. On the negative side he has thrown 12 interceptions. Hill is also the rushing leader for the Cougars. He has 1,142 yards rushing with eight TDs. Jamace Williams has 962 yards rushing and six TDs. Top receivers are Cody Hoffman with 38 catches for 664 yards and five TDs, and Skyler Riddy, 26-333-two TDs. Defensively Uani Unga has 106 tackles this season followed by Kyle Van Ney with 56.
Notre Dame leads the series, 5-2, with the last game played in 2012, with the Irish winning, 17-14.
The game will be televised nationally by NBC-TV with a 3:30 p.m. start and a 3:41 scheduled kickoff.
IRISH NOTES:Coach Kelly announced on Thursday that starting nose guard Louis Nix III had season-ending surgery earlier in the day for a torn meniscus in his left knee. Nix is a senior but has a fifth year eligibility left. He has indicated he was seriously thinking of giving up his fifth year and entering the NFL draft in the spring. He is projected to be a top 10 pick. Nix told the South Bend Tribune that he is rethinking the NFL decision and might come back for a fifth year....After las week's games the bowl picture for ND is clearing up. Former head coach Charlie Weis helped clear it up for ND. His Kansas team upset West Vriginia, 31-19, which opened up the at-large spot in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 28 at Yankee Stadium in New York, with a 12:15 p.m. kickoff. By West Virginia losing that ensured the Big 12 would only have six bowl-eligible teams. The Pinstripe Bowl pits the seventh team out of the Big 12 against the fourth team from the American Athletic Conference, formerly the Big East. Who would play ND in the game is wide open. The plus for playing in the game for ND is the payout, $1.8 million, the play date, and the site. ND won't play in a pre-Christmas bowl game. Other bowl games that ND could end up in, but there are varying factors for each game, are the following: Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit, on Dec. 26, 6 p.m.; AdvoCare V100 Bowl in Shreveport, La., on Dec. 31, at 12:30 p.m.; Heart of Dallas Bowl, in the old Cotton Bowl, Dallas, Tex., on Jan. 1, at noon; San Diego Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, San Diego, Calf., on Dec. 26, at 9:30 p.m.; BBVA Compass Bowl, Birmingham, Ala., on Jan. 4, at 1 p.m.; and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, in Memphis, Tenn., on Dec. 31, at 4 p.m....There are three teams who ND beat this season in the AP Top 25. Michigan State is 13, Arizona State is 17, and Southern California returned at 23 this week....Kelly is 14-2 in his career coming out of a bye week....The Irish didn't practice the week after the Pittsburgh game. Kelly wanted those with injury problems to rest. He did have the entire team conditioned and lifted weights....Kelly told the South Bend media that he didn't think any of the players who recently missed time because of injuries will not be able to play today. The only player that is still questionable is outside linebacker Ishaq Williams, who suffered a knee injury against Air Force and hasn't played since then....BYU presents a lot of challenges for the ND defense. The Cougars play a spread offense and averages 82 offensive plays a game while ND averages 53 a game, which is ninth fewest in the 123 team FBS. BYU QB Taysom Hill is a 23-year-old sophomore. He ranks second in the nation with 44 plays of 10 rushing yards or more and is tied for eighth with four plays of 40-plus yards....A stat missed after the Pitt loss was that ND didn't allow a sack in the game. It was only the second time in the last 47 games that Pitt didn't record a sack. Nationally, the Irish are ranked fourth in sacks allowed 0.7 per game behind Toledo, Northern Illinois, and Air Force....Center Nick Martion, who broke his right hand in the Pitt game, will play today.....Freshman outside linebacker Jaylon Smith will be wearing jersey number 13 today instead of his number nine, in honor of Danny Spond. Spond, a senior, gave up football in August because of debilitating hemiplegic migraines he was experiencing, but continues to be a student assistant coach....In my preseason picks I predicted a close Irish win today. I don't feel that way now. The bookies call this martchup a draw - no line listed. After the Pitt loss and facing the very explosive BYU offense, I see ND falling today to 7-4.