BYU vs. Notre Dame: Mo Moments

In the Brigham Young Cougars’ fast moving, low scoring game, there were four plays (besides the scoring plays) that helped change the outcome more than any others. As the score indicates, the momentum swings in this game were not major swings in momentum, but they made a difference.

Mo Moment 1
BYU took over for its first possession of the game after Notre Dame missed a field goal. The Cougars were steadily driving the ball down field. A 16-yard sack on first down set up a 2nd and 26. Offensive coordinator Brandon Doman made a good call, quarterback Riley Nelson made the right read, but his pass was behind the receiver. The ball was tipped and intercepted.

Momentum swing! A golden scoring opportunity was lost. BYU would have been in scoring range if the pass was completed. The Cougars would have had an early lead on the road. Instead, the Notre Dame defense had stopped BYU. The next two series, BYU went three and out, while Notre Dame had scored to take a 7-0 lead.

Mo Moment 2
BYU had tied the game at 7 with 8:25 to play in the second quarter. On Notre Dame’s ensuing drive, the quarterback dropped back to pass. He had his pass tipped, and it landed in Kyle Van Noy’s arms.

Momentum shift!  BYU had just scored a touchdown and was now only 30 yards away from taking the lead.  In less than 1:30, BYU punched the ball in for another touchdown, and a 14-7 lead that would stand well into the third quarter.

Mo Moment 3
For an entire quarter (6:07, 2nd quarter to 6:31, 3rd quarter) neither team was able to build any more momentum. Each missed a field goal. Notre Dame faced a 3rd and 1 at its own 37-yard line. Kyle Van Noy knifed into the back field and appeared to trip up the ball carrier for a one or two yard loss. He fell into his offensive line, which allowed him to balance himself, regain his footing, and then burst up field for 55 yards.

Momentum shift! Notre Dame now had first and goal at the 8-yard line. The BYU defense was able to regroup and force a field goal, but that didn’t take the momentum away from the Irish, it just slowed it down. The Notre Dame defense forced BYU to another three and out on offense, followed by a touchdown drive by Notre Dame to take a 17-14 lead.

Mo Moment 4
Although Notre Dame had scored 10 straight points to take the lead, their momentum wasn’t insurmountable. The BYU offense took over at its 16-yard line and started moving the ball with 12:52 to play in the game. Ten plays later, BYU was getting close to scoring range at the Notre Dame 31-yard line, and with a fresh set of downs. Sensing the urgency of the moment, Notre Dame broke through the BYU line and sacked Nelson for a 9-yard loss.

Momentum boost! BYU was able to get six of those yards back before punting on fourth down. The sack broke up BYU’s rhythm, and allowed Notre Dame to avert that scoring threat. Notre Dame was able to hold on to the ball until there was 22 seconds left. No previous Notre Dame drive had been longer than 4:06, but when BYU really needed to get the ball back, Notre Dame ran 5:48 off the clock.

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