One of BYU’s premier games in the 2022 college football season will occur midseason, when the Cougars travel to Las Vegas to face Notre Dame in a primetime matchup.
The Fighting Irish are expected to be arguably BYU’s toughest opponent of the Cougars’ final season before they move on to the Big 12.
Notre Dame returns 15 starters, according to ESPN, and is coming off an 11-2 season where the Fighting Irish finished the year ranked No. 8 in the final Associated Press rankings.
There are some question marks for Notre Dame, though, namely at quarterback and how first-year head coach Marcus Freeman will do after replacing Brian Kelly, who left to coach LSU.
One national college football expert believes BYU could knock off Notre Dame this season, in part because of the stability in the Cougars’ program coming off a 10-3 season where BYU finished the year ranked No. 19.
During his latest episode of the “Late Kick” podcast, college football pundit Josh Pate mentioned BYU-Notre Dame as one of five upset specials for the upcoming season.
“This is the first trip out West for the new version of Notre Dame, that being the Marcus Freeman (version of) Notre Dame,” Pate said.
Is BYU primed to upset Notre Dame?
Pate outlined a few reasons why he believes BYU could spring the upset against Notre Dame on Oct. 8 during Week 6 of the season.
Pate noted that BYU is No. 2 in the country at the FBS level in returning production this season, per ESPN’s Bill Connelly, including starting quarterback Jaren Hall, who will be a junior in 2022.
The Cougars are also one of 19 teams that return a quarterback, head coach and both the offensive and defensive coordinators, per sports data analyst Parker of @statsofwar.
The Fighting Irish will be breaking in a new quarterback, as well, after Jack Coan starred in his one season in South Bend as a graduate transfer.
The two in contention for Notre Dame’s starting job are Tyler Buchner and Drew Pyne, and by midseason, teams will have gotten a good look at who’s taken over, Pate noted.
“However the quarterback situation shakes out, you’ve gotten a good look at it if you’re Brigham Young, so you get to dial up your entire Super Bowl game philosophy here,” Pate said.
Pate concluded his argument by saying he believes BYU will be able to match up physically with the Fighting Irish.
“Including the Ohio State game, this will be one of if not the most physical games you play all year if you’re Notre Dame. You don’t have a ton of certainty at the quarterback position yet,” Pate said.
“Brigham Young’s pulled this stuff off before, they could pull it off again there.”