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Notre Dame vs. BYU: What to watch for

Notre Dame plays host to BYU this afternoon.

The No. 5 Irish will try to improve to 7-0 for the first time since 2002, and there is plenty of intrigue entering the game against the 4-3 Cougars.

Coach Brian Kelly will decide on his starting quarterback at some point today as he wanted to be cautious with Everett Golson, who suffered a concussion in last week's win over Stanford and missed Tuesday's practice after not being cleared to resume workouts until Wednesday.

Kelly said he could start Golson, Tommy Rees or Andrew Hendrix today.

The Irish also have to avoid the "trap game" as the have a top-10 showdown with No. 10 Oklahoma (4-1) looming next week.

Notre Dame players spent the week reassuring everyone they wouldn't overlook BYU, and here are three matches to watch for today's game:

Notre Dame's running backs vs. BYU rush defense: Theo Riddick, Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III have shared the rushing duties well for Notre Dame, though Kelly said he would like to get the ball to Atkinson more. Atkinson is averaging an eye-catching 9.1 yards per carry, but he only has 32 carries this season. Riddick, who has a team-high 80 rushing attempts, is averaging 3.8 yards per carry, and Wood, who has 47 rushing attempts, is averaging 5.9 yards per carry. The Cougars will be has hard to run on as Stanford last week. BYU is only giving up 67.9 rushing yards per game, the third best run defense in the nation.

Notre Dame's offensive line vs. BYU's front seven: The Irish gave up four sacks last week against Stanford after not giving up a sack to Miami or Michigan the previous two games. The Cougars are just as good at getting after quarterbacks as the Cardinal. BYU is No. 13 in sacks, averaging 3.1 per game.

Notre Dame's run defense vs. BYU's running backs: The Irish have yet to give up a rushing touchdown this season, and they are holding teams to 113.5 rushing yards per game. If Notre Dame can shutdown BYU running backs Jamaal Williams, who has run for 345 yards with five touchdowns, and force quarterback Nelson Riley to win the game with his arm, the Irish will be in good shape.

Prediction: Notre Dame 24, BYU 6

The Journal Gazette's Assistant Sports Editor Tony Krausz covers The University of Notre Dame. Krausz, a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a native of St. Louis, has been assistant sports editor since October 2005. Prior to joining the JG, he worked at two papers in Mississippi covering high school and college athletics.

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