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South Bend, Ind. • BYU's defense, a facet of Cougar football left to take pride in, couldn't quite measure up against Notre Dame here on Saturday in a 17-14 loss. Although it had some success throughout the afternoon, it couldn't stop the Irish offense when it had to and it couldn't outperform an Irish D that ranks high in numerous national categories.
"We played pretty well," said Cougar linebacker Brandon Ogletree. "We had to do a better job of [stopping] their running game."
That was a bit of an issue. In a game that didn't push offensive football toward any kind of new benchmark, BYU allowed 270 rushing yards. The Irish had two backs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood who rushed for more than 100 yards each. Riddick had 143 and Wood 114.
"Their main goal was to run the ball, and our main goal was to stop the run," Ogletree said.
At one point earlier this season, BYU had ranked No. 1 in the country in rushing defense. That D was nowhere in sight Saturday.
Coming in, Notre Dame's defense ranked among the best 25 defenses nationally in nine different categories, the worst of which, at 25th, was rush defense. But the Irish held the Cougars to a mere 66 yards on the ground, doing to BYU what BYU wanted to do to Notre Dame.
In total yards, the Cougars finished with 243, the Irish with 389.
The biggest failing for BYU came on a drive by Notre Dame early in the fourth quarter, with the Cougars up 14-10. The Irish moved 72 yards in eight plays, and got what turned out to be the game winner on a 2-yard TD run by George Atkinson. After that, BYU's offense couldn't score.