SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame running back Theo Riddick has no idea how he stayed on his feet when he broke loose for a career-long 55-yard run in the third quarter in Saturdays 17-14 win over BYU.
I just looked up, and it was daylight, things happen, Riddick said.
Riddick powered his way through what looked to be a sure stop around the Irishs 37-yard line to get to the Cougars 8, and it was just one of many powerful moves he made against the nations third-best defense against the run as he ran for a career-high 143 yards.
I think what he did more than anything else is that he ran north and south, and he plays physical, coach Brian Kelly said of Riddick. That gets an energy for everybody. I think that he got us that energy that we needed.
Riddick wasnt alone is providing the boost to the Irish.
Cierre Wood ran for 114 yards, giving Notre Dame two 100-yard rushers for the second time this season, and George Atkinson III scored the go-ahead touchdown with some fancy footwork with 12:52 to play in the game. Atkinson juked his way past safety Joe Sampson from 2 yards out to erase a 14-10 deficit.
The Irish gained 157 of their 270 rushing yards after the first half, and Notre Dame only attempted three passes in the second half.
We wore Stanford down (last week), they didnt really want to play no more, same thing with BYU, Wood said. I started noticing their nose tackle wasnt coming off the ball as hard has he usually does. Thats a credit to us, blowing everybody off the ball and the running backs sticking in there getting the first down.
Notre Dame will want to bring the same formula to Norman, Okla., next week when it faces No. 10 Oklahoma in a game that will bring ESPNs College GameDay show to the Sooners campus.
The Irish ran the ball on 43 of their 60 plays and salted away the victory by draining the game clock from 6:10 to 20 seconds with nine straight running plays for 48 yards on their final possession.
I was really impressed, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall said. They were physical, and we had a very difficult time making consistent tackles and a lot of times, seems like we had good contact either at the line of scrimmage or shortly thereafter, and the running backs kept driving their legs and running hard. I was really impressed with their running game today.