NewsCenter 16 is counting down to the National Champion game by re-living each game of the 2012 Notre Dame Football Season. Each sportscast until the New Year, will look back at a game from the season with extended highlights, storylines and postgame reaction.
Saturday, we moved into the 2nd half of the season as the 6-0 Irish welcomed in BYU to Notre Dame Stadium.
Tommy Rees started in place of Everett Golson, who was out with a concussion. Rees only attempted three passes in the entire 2nd half as Notre Dame leaned on the run game. Theo Riddick ran for a career-high 143 yards, Cierre Wood added 114 yards as No. 5 Notre Dame rallied for a 17-14 victory on Saturday.
Riddick had runs of 55 and 27, the two longest rushes of his career, to pace Notre Dame. The 55 yard run was his signature play of the season as Riddick somehow escaped the pile for a big burst after what appeared would be just a one or two yard gain.
And in many ways, the Irish felt like they escaped. Coming off a win over a top 10 team in Stanford the week before and with a top 10 matchup at Oklahoma on the horizon, Notre Dame didn't play its best football and they didn't react like they did after the game.
"I think the thing that was concerning for me the most is when our guys came in, and I didn't sense a great feeling after winning a tough, tough football game," Brian Kelly said after the game. "And that's a team that won ten games last year. That's a bracket-buster team in basketball parlance, that's a darned good football team. Our kids hung in there and won the football game. So really pleased to be 7-0."
After not giving up a touchdown in four straight games, the Irish defense gave up two in 2:18 in the 2nd quarter as Notre Dame fell behind 14-7 at halftime.
"We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole in the first half with some uncharacteristic mistakes," Kelly said. "But we told them at the half-time, you know, this is about how we finish this football game. There wasn't a panic. We stuck with what we were doing."
With the score 14-10 in the 4th, George Atkinson juked a defender and gave Notre Dame the lead for good on a TD run.
Notre Dame improved to 7-0 with the win and remained at 5th in both the BCS Standings and AP Rankings.