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Irish win ugly ... other notes

Notre Dame didn't create a masterpiece Saturday, nor did the Irish secure a victory with anything close to as dramatic as last week's goal-line stands in over time against Stanford.

But the 17-13 grind-it-out victory over BYU in Notre Dame Stadium said plenty about the No. 5 Irish as they improved to 7-0 for the first time since 2002.

"I want them to know, that, listen, you can't win games by 28 and 30 points," coach Brian Kelly said. "You need to find ways to win. That's who we are. There's a lot of teams around the country that have made their programs on winning 7‑6 and 13‑7.

"It's just who we are, embrace who we are, I guess is what I'm saying. We just keep fighting, keep playing and we'll find a way to win."

Notre Dame found its way to victory through the rushing game as the Irish ran for 270 yards against the third best run defense in the nation. BYU was only giving up 67.9 rushing yards per game entering Saturday.

And the Irish found away to win with quarterback Everett Golson, who started five of the first six games, unable to play as he continued to recover from a concussion he suffered last week against the Cardinal, and nd starting quarterback Tommy Rees going nearly two quarters without completing a pass.

Notre Dame also found a way to win after it had its 17-quarter streak of not giving up an offensive touchdown end in the second quarter as BYU scored twice in just more than 2 minutes to go up 14-7 at halftime.

"Our team has a lot of heart," said linebacker Manti Te'o, who had a team-high 10 tackles and intercepted a pass against the Cougars. "We stay together. Football is very unpredictable. You have your ups and your downs, and the most important thing is staying together when we hit adversity. That's exactly what we did."

By overcoming challenges, Notre Dame has set up its second top-10 showdown of the season when the Irish travel to play No. 10 Oklahoma next week. The matchup has attracted ESPN's "College GameDay" show to the Sooners' campus.

"Next week is a huge game, so that's what our focus is on now," tight end and Bishop Dwenger grad Tyler Eifert said. "We are 7-0, and all we can do next week is be 8-0. We can't do anything more, so just focus on that."

Quarterback shuffle

Kelly made it clear after Saturday's home win over BYU that the only reason he switched starting quarterbacks was medical.

Golson, who has started five of six games this year, wasn't able to practice until Wednesday as he recovered from his concussion.

And after a high-tempo, eight-play drill Friday, Kelly felt it was best to keep Golson out against the Cougars with next week's game at Oklahoma looming.

"He wanted to play," Kelly said of Golson. "He made his case. I felt like this was the best thing to do. He was supportive. He was great on the sideline. But he clearly … he wanted to get in there as well.

"We feel like we've got a kid now that's 100 percent ready to go for Oklahoma."

Power running

Notre Dame running back Theo Riddick ran for a career-high 143 yards against BYU. And few of those yards were easy.

Riddick carried a large portion of the Cougars defense on his back during one run, and he somehow stayed on his feet and turned what looked like a short gain into a career-long 55-yard run in the third quarter.

Riddick, who had runs of 27 and 19 yards and also converted a big third-and-5 play into a first down with a 6-yard run, said running with power is nothing new for him.

"Back in high school, we always played power football," Riddick said. "It was instilled in me since high school."

Riddick said he also learned about running with power by watching Jonas Gray, who filled the power role for the Irish in 2011.

"You got to go north and south, once you put your foot in the ground, you can't dance too much because that's when you allow the other defenders to catch up," Riddick said of what he learned from Gray.

Finding Eifert

Rees complete 6 of 7 passes for 86 yards in the opening quarter, and four of those passes went to Eifert.

The 6-foot-6, 251-pound senior amassed all of his receiving yards in the opening 15 minutes as he gained 73 yards and scored a touchdown against BYU.

"(Rees) trusts me that I'm going to get open, and he's going to throw the ball on time. I was open, so he was throwing me the ball," Eifert said. "I like it. I like being targeted more, but I'm just happy we got the win."

Kelly said the Eifert-Rees connection isn't better than the Eifert-Golson connection, it was just a case of the Irish trying to get the ball more to their dangerous tight end.

"I don't think that there's anything more than the routes that were called were specifically to get Eifert the football," Kelly said. "There's no magic there – (Eifert and Rees) clearly are very close friends, we all know that. They have been together for a while – but the routes were called to get him the football, and we connected on those opportunities."