Irish Rebound from USC Loss with 49-23 Victory over BYU

Notre Dame, Ind ( — A week after the biggest game in Notre Dame Stadium in the last decade, many wondered how the Irish would respond to the emotional loss to USC. Charlie Weis had coached the Irish to a record setting performance against BYU with a 49-23 victory.

BYU jumped to a 3-0 lead on the first drive of the game, but Brady Quinn (32 of 42 for 467 yards) marched the Irish down the field and threw the first of his single game record 6 touchdown passes. Quinn connected with Maurice Stovall from 10 yards out for one of Stovall’s 4 receiving touchdowns — another single game record.

The Cougars responded with a touchdown of their own for a 10-7 lead when John Beck connected with Jonny Harline for a 12 yard touchdown. After that first quarter touchdown, Notre Dame would go on to outscore BYU 42-13.

Quinn’s 2nd touchdown of the game went to Jeff Samardjiza off a good play action fake to Travis Thomas. Samardjiza found himself alone in the back of the end zone for his 10th touchdown on the season. Samardjiza would go on to add his 11th touchdown of the season in the 3rd quarter — tying Derrick Mayes single season record.

Quinn would add touchdowns of 15, 37, and 25 yards to Stovall to push his season total to 20 which is also a new Notre Dame record. Quinn’s 20 touchdowns is 1 better than Ron Powlus’ single season record of 19 which he set as a freshman in 1994.

BYU would get as close as 23-28 in the 2nd half, but after a missed two point conversion, Brady Quinn led the Irish to two more touchdowns drives to essentially put the game out of reach.

The offense did not do all of the scoring for the Irish however. Tom Zbikowski returned an interception 83 yards for a touchdown a week after returning a punt for a touchdown against USC. Zbikowski’s pick return was the first defensive touchdown of the season for the Irish.

Stovall’s recording setting day also included a new single game receptions mark for Notre Dame with 14 catches for 208 yards. Samardjiza would add 10 catches for 157 yards to give Notre Dame its first 10 reception duo in a single game.

Despite the record setting day offensively for the Irish, they had a tough time going on the ground with BYU determined to have the Irish beat them through the air. BYU held Notre Dame to just 51 yards on the ground, but failed to adjust and stop the Irish pass.

Charlie Weis responded to the 8 and 9 man fronts by calling for passing plays on 45 of the team’s 65 plays and that is including the 9 running plays called with the backups in. Without those 9 runs, Notre Dame passed 80% of the time.

The win was the first home win of the Charlie Weis era after two close, down to the wire games in his first two home contests. Michigan State beat the Irish in over time and USC beat the Irish in the final 10 seconds a week ago. The win also ended a 4 game losing streak in Notre Dame Stadium that extends into last season.

The Irish now have a bye week before hosting Tennessee which lost a hard fought battle with undefeated Alabama 6-3 on a last minute field goal. Now at 5-2, the Irish should be favored in each of their remaining 4 games (Tennessee, Navy, Syracuse, Stanford) and should reach a BCS Bowl for the first time since 2001 if they win out.

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