No. 16 BYU vs Notre Dame: Time, TV, Preview & Prediction from Las Vegas

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 24 Notre Dame at North Carolina
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LAS VEGAS — What happens in Vegas tonight will not stay in Vegas. Both Notre Dame (2-2) and No. 16 BYU (4-1) need a win this evening, perhaps an obvious statement but one that is intended to illustrate the swing-nature feeling of this tilt. The Irish could secure a three-game winning streak with their next two looking like blowouts, while the Cougars could make a strong case for a New Year’s Six bowl appearance in their final season of independence.

None of those thoughts are confined to the Strip.

TIME: 7:30 ET, otherwise known as 4:30 local time. Not to tell on anyone in Las Vegas, but it has already been established what happens here does not stay here, and that time change has cost a few East Coasters this weekend.

This scribe sat next to a Boston resident at dinner last night who figured, “I can eat when I land, it’ll be only 8 p.m.,” completely overlooking the reality that it would be 11 p.m. on his body clock, and his five-hour flight would not give him a chance to actually eat. Worry not, he got a nice plate of an enchilada and taco combination.

Then walking home from dinner, this scribe came across a couple friends who readily admitted, “If this was anywhere else, I’d be at home in bed.” It was 11 p.m. PT. These folks do not usually see 2 a.m. ET. It showed.

In other words, time zones are real.

TV: NBC will broadcast the 11th Shamrock Series tilt, while Peacock will also carry the game live if preferring to stream it. Notre Dame has never lost in the Shamrock Series, bouncing between Fenway Stadium, Yankee Stadium, Soldier Field and now Allegiant Stadium.

It could be pointed out it will be 91 degrees and sunny in Las Vegas at kickoff, but that is probably why the second-most expensive stadium in the world ($1.9 billion, behind only SoFi Stadium outside of Los Angeles at $5.5 billion) includes a dome.

When you turn on the game and see a team in white playing a team in black, do not change the channel. The Irish have always worn alternate uniforms in the Shamrock Series, and of course their reveal this year was well-received as a viral parody of “The Hangover.”

While some fans take umbrage that Notre Dame goes away from its traditional blue-and-gold outfits, the people actually wearing the uniforms have always relished them.

“As a player, I never had a chance to wear any other jersey than our normal home and away, but it’s something that players nowadays, our guys love it,” Irish head coach Marcus Freeman said on Monday. “They love to wear something new, something different. …

“I don’t think it truly affects the way they play, but if they look good and they feel good, I’m all for it.”

Then again, perhaps every word of that was a lie, considering at the start of that answer, borderline fashion icon Freeman had the audacity to suggest he does not know what “drip” is. His 6-year-old and 8-year-old had been bragging on their own drips at their flag football games during the Notre Dame idle weekend, to Freeman’s claimed confusion.

“I said, ‘What is drip, man?’” he said with an impressively straight face. “I don’t know, it’s a belief. In the Freeman kids, they feel like if they have drip or if they look better, they play better.”

PREVIEW: This is the third straight Shamrock Series against a ranked opponent, following No. 12 Syracuse at Yankee Stadium in 2018 and No. 18 Wisconsin at Soldier Field in 2021. Therein lies the true charm of these games.

Notre Dame has been somewhat lucky in these teams having such success, given the games are scheduled far in advance, but there is some matter of making your own fortune here. The Irish have not played six true road games since 2003. That is intentional, in two ways.

For one thing, playing seven home games or playing six while hosting a seventh at a neutral site helps Notre Dame’s bottom line. For another, there is an obvious competitive advantage in avoiding a sixth road game. Since the Shamrock Series began in 2009 (beating Washington State 40-14 in the Alamodome in San Antonio), the Irish have played as many as five true road games only five times in 14 years, counting this season. (These trends are helped by never playing at Annapolis when Navy hosts Notre Dame every other season, something that should change at least once someday, please.)

But counter to the competitive advantage, these neutral-site games better the Irish schedule in that the seventh team Notre Dame would get to play in South Bend would inevitably be a mid-major, simply due to the scheduling incongruity created by a seven/five home/road split. Instead of that, the Irish play teams like Arizona State, Maryland and Purdue. In the right years, those teams can be stout opponents. There is a degree of luck to which years they land on Notre Dame’s schedule, but they spend more time competitive than most MAC teams do.

“I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of BYU fans there, too,” Freeman said. “Enjoy the experience. That’s to me what makes Notre Dame unique. It’s a distinction that we have a home game in Las Vegas against a great opponent.”

Finding those great opponents has been a challenge for the Cougars since they joined the independent ranks in 2011. Of the 147 games since then, 52 have been against Power Five foes. No, BYU is not a Power Five program, but that has long been its goal. Going 24-28 against those Power Five opponents may be the perfect, layered on-field demonstration of that unachieved goal. Well, unachieved until next season.

PREDICTION: As the Vegas nightlife begins to wind down, Notre Dame remains a four-point favorite with a combined point total Over/Under available between 50.5 and 51.5, so for these purposes, call it 51.0. Quick math suggests a 27-24 Irish victory.

But perhaps not so fast.

First of all, Notre Dame has not scored 27 points against anyone this season except for North Carolina’s faltering defense.

Secondly, the Irish have made it a habit to give up quality possessions in both halves, setting a higher floor for opponents’ scoring output than Freeman would like.

“Defensively, we have to — there’s a series or two a half we’re letting teams go down and score,” he said. “It could be a big play. North Carolina, that first series of the game, it was quarterback scrambles.

“We have to get those little things fixed.”

Deep in there is actually a compliment to defensive coordinator Al Golden, that he makes in-game adjustments to slow whatever worked on those scoring drives, something Golden espoused as soon as he was hired, citing the absolute need for such quick coaching in the NFL.

But to the point, Freeman would rather not need to make those in-game adjustments or need to overcome outright lapses. If only that want were all that it took.

BYU will find its points. Its average of 34.4 has not been inflated against any FCS-level competition, and with two Power Five teams mixed in, there is enough legitimacy to that rate. Quarterback Jaren Hall rarely makes mistakes — 12 touchdowns compared to just one interception — while averaging 8.4 yards per pass attempt. Such should be expected from someone who was in the recruiting class of 2016. For context, Notre Dame signed Ian Book as its quarterback in that class, as in, someone who played five collegiate seasons and is now in his second year knocking around the NFL.

At the risk of being both overly blunt and far too obvious, the Irish do not have a quarterback with that experience. Junior Drew Pyne has quickly grown into his role as the starter, but he has not needed to lead Notre Dame late in a game with the pressure on. Until that is seen, it cannot be assumed in any quarterback.

With two teams otherwise evenly matched, the one with the far more experienced passer should be given some benefit of the doubt.

BYU 27, Notre Dame 24
(Spread: 2-2; Over/Under: 1-3; Straight-up: 3-1)

Idle-week thoughts on Notre Dame and its difficulties in the transfer portal
Las Vegas trip will offer Notre Dame fewer distractions than most; secondary injury updates
And In That Corner … No. 16 BYU offers physical test for Notre Dame in Las Vegas
Notre Dame’s Opponents: Could a third Playoff contender be emerging on the Irish schedule?
DT Jacob Lacey ends season, to enter the transfer portal; secondary injury updates
How to watch ND vs BYU Saturday and the Irish all season; TV, Peacock info for 2022
Things To Learn: Notre Dame needs to find a fast start for a change of pace vs BYU
Friday at 4: QB room creates a friendly trust that has been crucial to Pyne’s success

Gunner Romney’s family feared a lacerated kidney might keep the wide receiver sidelined for longer
BYU players rank new black threads as best uniform
Inside Michael Mayer’s star role in Shamrock Series uniform reveal
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Drew Pyne to transfer from Notre Dame; Tyler Buchner reportedly a bowl possibility


Notre Dame may start its third quarterback of the season in its bowl game after junior Drew Pyne announced he will transfer from the program on Friday. A graduate, Pyne has three seasons of eligibility remaining.

ESPN’s Pete Thamel first reported Pyne’s intention to transfer, with Pyne soon thereafter taking to Twitter to confirm as much.

“One of my proudest honors is to have been a student-athlete at the University of Notre Dame,” Pyne wrote. “… It’s time for me to take on a new challenge, and I will be entering the transfer portal.”

Pyne took over as the Irish starter after sophomore Tyler Buchner suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the second week of the season. Pyne went 8-2 as a starter, completing 64.6 percent of his passes for 2,021 yards and 22 touchdowns this season.

His final action at Notre Dame may have been Pyne’s best game of his career, throwing for 318 yards and three touchdowns at USC while completing 23 of 26 passes, the second-most accurate game in Irish history.

He appeared in two games in 2021, stepping in for Jack Coan when he struggled against Wisconsin and Cincinnati. Keeping Pyne to minimal appearances in 2021 was intentional, preserving a season of eligibility for him.

That eligibility will now be used elsewhere.

Without Pyne, Notre Dame will have freshman Steve Angeli and possibly Buchner available in the bowl game, a location and opponent to be announced on Sunday. Football Scoop’s John Brice reported Friday afternoon that Buchner will play in the bowl game, though perhaps that optimism should be measured throughout practice this month.

Regardless, the Irish are expected to pursue an incoming transfer quarterback this month. With names like Texas’ Hudson Card and Virginia’s Brennan Armstrong already in the transfer portal, Notre Dame will have a few options to chase.

That is why Pyne’s transfer makes sense, even if he spoke earnestly about the bowl game following that 38-27 loss in Los Angeles.

“I think we have a lot to play for,” he said. “We’re going to be in a bowl game, I want to send all the seniors out the right way. We have a lot to play for. We have another game, I’m going to prepare as hard as I can for that and finish the season off on a positive note.”

Reversing course from those words is understandable given they came minutes after a competitive game, and the last week has shown Pyne how quickly the quarterback transfer market will move.

In the game of musical chairs that is quarterbacks moving across the country, Pyne waiting until after the bowl game to transfer could serve only to leave him with fewer destinations as options. Not that Pyne may have been looking at Iowa, but the fact that one Power Five starting gig appears to have already been filled by Michigan transfer Cade McNamara presumably underscored the rapid nature of this process.

Understandably, Pyne needs to make the most of this opportunity, coming off a strong season as Notre Dame’s starter but knowing he is unlikely to start for the Irish in 2023. Depending on the level of transfer joining the Irish and Buchner’s health, it was distinctly possible Pyne would be Notre Dame’s third quarterback next year.

For someone who grew up as a Notre Dame fan, specifically a Brady Quinn fan, assuredly this decision was not an easy one for Pyne.

He had a lengthy and notable offer sheet coming out of high school, but Pyne at his best this season would not draw interest from the likes of Texas A&M, Alabama and LSU as he did three years ago. It may be more pertinent to point out he is a Connecticut native, so schools in the northeast could be most logical for his landing spot.

The Irish should also have quarterback commit Kenny Minchey in the pecking order this spring, expected to sign with Notre Dame on Dec. 21 when the early signing period begins.

RELATED READING: Notre Dame’s QB room creates a friendly trust that has been crucial to Pyne’s success
Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 10 Drew Pyne, junior quarterback

Notre Dame adds a fourth receiver commit to recruiting class, helping a roster need


Notre Dame is addressing its most glaring roster deficiency with a numbers approach. The Irish had only five true scholarship receivers for much of this season, a number they will nearly match in next year’s freshman class alone after adding a fourth receiver commitment on Thursday. Consensus three-star receiver Kaleb Smith (Rick Reedy High School; Frisco, Texas) announced he will join Notre Dame’s class, and he should sign with the Irish on Dec. 21 when the early signing period begins.

Smith was committed to Texas Tech for more than nine months before he backed off that pledge in early November. Marcus Freeman does not welcome official visitors who are committed to other programs, so if Smith wanted to take an official visit to South Bend to watch Notre Dame play Clemson, he needed to open up his recruitment.

The Irish 35-13 win against the then-No. 4 Tigers assuredly helped tip the scales away from his homestate Texas Tech.

Otherwise, Smith has hardly been recruited by anyone. The only other Power Five program to chase him was Baylor when current Notre Dame receivers coach Chansi Stuckey was there.

Listed at only 6-foot and 168 pounds, it is easy to pencil in Smith as a slot receiver, but he is also willing to go up in the air to get the ball. His highlight footage features him repeatedly and astonishingly open.

His size, or lack thereof, will make Smith unique among the quartet of incoming signees. By snagging four receivers in this class, the Irish are proactively fixing an undeniable roster problem. In last year’s Fiesta Bowl, Notre Dame had only four receivers available. Through most of this season, in part due to injuries to Avery Davis and Joe Wilkins, the Irish had a total of six receivers available, including former walk-on Matt Salerno.

While Braden Lenzy will not return for the Irish in 2023, current sophomores Jayden Thomas, Deion Colzie and Lorenzo Styles should all come back, along with current freshman Tobias Merriweather. With these four commitments, a position group of eight may allow Notre Dame to have a genuine two-deep.

If signing four receivers in a class and seven in two years seems like an unsustainable influx, keep in mind two things. First of all, the Irish desperately need to find receiver depth. Lenzy was famously and admittedly exhausted at the end of that Fiesta Bowl faceplant 11 months ago. One more injury this season would have further crippled Notre Dame’s passing game in 2022. Secondly, the one-time transfer allowance will make departures from the program both more common and more alluring to the players. Natural attrition will occur.

RELATED READING: A third four-star receiver commitment, Jaden Greathouse, elevates Notre Dame’s class of 2023 from good to Great
Four-star receiver Rico Flores Jr.’s commitment gives Notre Dame some receiver hope for 2023
Four-star Texas receiver Braylon James gives Notre Dame needed offensive piece in class of 2023

CB Cam Hart out for Notre Dame’s bowl game, but will return in 2023

Notre Dame v North Carolina
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Perhaps earlier than expected, Notre Dame has already received good news this offseason. Senior cornerback Cam Hart will return for a fifth year in South Bend, though he will not put on pads for the Irish in any bowl game, he announced Tuesday evening.

“Due to a shoulder injury that I sustained during the Boston College Game [sic], I could not participate in our final regular season game and will not be able to participate in this year’s bowl game,” Hart wrote on Twitter. “Consequently, I believe my time here isn’t necessarily complete. Choosing to attend the University of Nore Dame has been the best decision I’ve ever made in my entire life.

“In light of that, I’ve decided to return for a fifth season and look forward to taking the field with my brothers in 2023!”

Hart’s 2023 return should give the Irish four returning cornerbacks with starting experience, only fifth-year nickel back Tariq Bracy a notable departure from this year’s cornerbacks group.

Note: The use of “should” is not meant to imply anything about other possibilities. The conditional verb is chosen as recognition of the constantly changing rosters in college football in 2022.

Hart took part in Notre Dame’s Senior Day festivities before facing Boston College, which suggested he was at least considering jumping to the NFL. This quick announcement indicates the injury ruled out that thought process, though the injury had plagued him at points earlier in the season.

A shoulder injury first flared up for Hart this year in the spring of 2022, costing him spring practices. A concern had previously cost him some of 2019, as he adapted from playing receiver in high school. He nonetheless played in 11 games in 2022, starting 10 and making 25 tackles with three for loss and breaking up four passes.

His passes defensed fell from nine in 2021, along with two interceptions, in part because opposing quarterbacks were less enticed to test the increasingly-experienced cornerback. His 6-foot-2 ½ length made Hart something just short of a shutdown cornerback.

With current freshman Benjamin Morrison surging to close this season and classmate Jaden Mickey stepping in for Hart at USC, Notre Dame should enjoy a plethora of tested cornerbacks in 2023. (Current junior Clarence Lewis is the aforementioned fourth.)

In many respects, this will allow the Irish defense to begin the 2023 season with the same calm it had in 2022, when Hart, Lewis and Bracy provided experienced pass defense.

“You have three older veteran corners that can really play at any moment, which makes you feel good,” head coach Marcus Freeman said in August. “Those three guys can play those two corner spots and I don’t feel there will be a drop off with any of them.”

There are a few key decisions left on Notre Dame’s defense — most notably, defensive end Justin Ademilola and safety Brandon Joseph could return in 2023 — but most of them may come after any Irish bowl game. Hart’s choice was presumably expedited by his apparent exclusion from the bowl game due to this injury.

2020: 8 games; 3 tackles, 2 passes defended.
2021: 13 games, 10 starts; 42 tackles with four for loss, 9 passes defended and two interceptions.
2022: 11 games, 10 starts; 25 tackles with three for loss, 4 passes defended.

RELATED READING: Notre Dame 99-to-0: No. 5 Cam Hart, senior cornerback, second-year starter

Things We Learned: Notre Dame’s offensive shortcomings again highlighted by an explosive counterpart

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There are two ways to look at USC’s 38-27 win against Notre Dame on Saturday, and they both tie back to the Trojans’ being the best Irish measuring stick.

USC beat Notre Dame in a way that underscores how short-handed the Irish always were this season. When Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams began to cement his status as the Heisman frontrunner with a performance that will be long remembered, Notre Dame had no way to consistently counter him.

“We didn’t stop them,” Irish head coach Marcus Freeman said simply enough.

Without the offensive skill position players needed to match Williams’ explosive play for explosive play, Notre Dame needed its defense to play perfectly, clearly an unfair ask against a Lincoln Riley offense.

“USC is a great team,” Irish quarterback Drew Pyne said. “That was a really good team we played out there. They’re going to go on and do great things for the rest of their season. Caleb Williams is a great player.”

If the Irish had not had junior tight end Michael Mayer — eight catches on nine targets for 98 yards and two touchdowns — they may not have been able to stay in even vague distance of the Trojans. Three heaves to Deion Colzie gained 75 yards and three first downs, but each felt like Pyne was hoping more than anything else.

Notre Dame still made it a game, but the discrepancy in offensive playmakers stood out in Los Angeles on Saturday night.

And while both programs will undergo some turnover — most notably Mayer for the Irish; receiver Jordan Addison and running back Austin Jones will both likely be at the next level next year, among Trojans’ contributors this weekend — Notre Dame will need to close that gap to compete with USC next season.

The variance of a schedule may keep the Irish from too staunchly improving on their 8-4 record this year, but a certainty is that Williams will be ready to dazzle again in South Bend on Oct. 14, 2023.

Notre Dame right now does not have the offensive firepower to keep up with such a dynamic attack. As soon as the Irish gifted the Trojans chances to take a lead, their running game was mitigated and Notre Dame’s best hopes were reduced to Mayer and those heaves to Colzie.

Williams can dance his way through any defense, perhaps shy of Georgia’s. Even if the Irish secondary had been fully healthy, Williams’ rhythmic scrambles still would have broken down the defense. If Utah helms him in this weekend, it may be as much due to a USC letdown as it is to any Utes’ scheme. His stardom is an extreme, but this is college football in 2022, again aside from Georgia.

Many will instinctively point to Pyne’s shortcomings, ignoring how well he played in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. He made two mistakes, yes, but one of them (the cross-body interception) came as Notre Dame was more and more desperate and the other (the fumbled exchange) was in part a result of the Irish abandoning their ground game as they fell further behind.

Pyne finished 23-of-26 for 318 yards and three touchdowns. Every version of breaking down those stats yields praise for Pyne. A reality of a loss and a reality when the opposing quarterback broke through as a national star, no time was spent in postgame press conferences discussing Pyne’s efficient night.

But it was, regardless.

His final incompletion, the interception from Notre Dame’s own red zone, also overshadowed the second-most accurate day in Irish passing history, but it was an understandable mistake. Notre Dame was trailing by two scores with only five minutes remaining. Wasting a play on a throwaway was low on Pyne’s priority list.

If Pyne had established more of a season-long rapport with Colzie, maybe he sees him down the left sideline as highlighted by Kirk Herbstreit on the broadcast. If Braden Lenzy is a bit less worn down by a season-long receiver shortage, maybe he is able to charge into Pyne’s ill-advised pass rather than try to settle in for a low catch. If … maybe, if … maybe.

Only twice this season has USC managed as few as 31 genuine points — discounting the short-field touchdown in the final three minutes courtesy of Pyne’s pick, though not all that necessary given the Trojans fell short of 40 points just twice in their first 11 games. Oregon State and Washington State had the luxuries of facing Williams before he had reached the peak of his powers with this new, transfer-obtained complement of receivers.

The Irish defense did its part against USC. Notre Dame’s offense just could not match the star of the season.

Williams will star again next year. The Irish defense will most likely still be stout. Those truths this season will carry over. Notre Dame then has to wonder only if its offense can develop and/or find more playmakers, a known need this entire season and now the pressing concern entering the offseason, a need emphasized by the Trojans’ offense, the foe that should again define 2023.