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Notre Dame

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College football preview: BYU at Notre Dame

Records: Irish (7-3); Cougars (7-3)

When: 3:30 p.m. today

Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend

TV: NBC

Radio: 1190 AM, 107.3 FM

On the Web: To watch a video preview for the game, go to “Irish Insights” at journalgazette.net

3 matchups to watch

Notre Dame’s defense vs. BYU quarterback Taysom Hill: The 6-foot-2, 221-pound Hill leads the Cougars with 956 rushing yards and has scored a team-high eight rushing touchdowns. The sophomore has also thrown for 2,379 yards with 16 touchdowns, but he is completing only 52.4 percent of his passes and has thrown 12 interceptions. Hill orchestrates an up-tempo offense that averages 86.8 plays a game and gains 5.8 yards a play. The Irish will have to slow Hill without starting nose guard Louis Nix III, who is out for the season after undergoing knee surgery Thursday. Notre Dame has struggled to contain Michigan’s dual-threat quarterback Devin Gardner, who threw for 294 yards with four touchdowns and running for 82 yards in the Irish’s 41-30 loss Sept. 7.

Notre Dame’s pass defense vs. BYU receivers Cody Hoffman and Marcus Matthews: The 6-4, 210-pound Hoffman and 6-4, 200-pound Matthews are bigger receivers than defenses typically have to deal with. Hoffman leads BYU with 38 receptions for 664 yards and five touchdowns, and Matthews has 23 catches for 397 yards and four touchdowns. Irish cornerbacks KeiVarae Russell, a 5-11, 190-pounder, and Bennett Jackson, a 6-foot, 195-pounder, will deal with Hoffman the most. The pair has combined for 94 tackles, and Jackson has an interception. The linebackers will be called on to help with Matthews, who plays in the slot, and the Irish could look for freshman and former Bishop Luers standout Jaylon Smith to keep up with the receiver. Smith has 53 tackles, two breakups and an interception this season.

Notre Dame’s pass protection vs. BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy: The Irish have done a good job of keeping quarterback Tommy Rees safe. Notre Dame has given up seven sacks as Rees has thrown for 2,504 yards with 24 touchdowns. Van Noy’s 26 career sacks is the second most among active FBS players. The 6-3, 245-pound senior has 56 tackles with 15 for loss, four sacks, 13 quarterback hurries and two interceptions this season. Notre Dame’s offensive line and running backs will be needed to keep Van Noy at bay.

Prediction: Notre Dame 28, BYU 24

tkrausz@jg.net

– Tony Krausz, The Journal Gazette

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