Notre Dame’s defense is good, but they haven’t faced their toughest test yet.
The Irish held BYU to 243 yards of total offense, including 2.6 yards per rush, and 14 points while intercepting the Cougars twice and shutting them out in the second half. It was a fairly impressive performance, and it added to Notre Dame’s resume for the BCS. We do have to take into account here that BYU’s offense isn’t exactly the passing -and-points-frenzy that it was while Marc Wilson, Jim McMahon, Robbie Bosco, Steve Young, and Ty Detmer were calling the signals. The Cougar offense is ranked in the bottom half of the country in both rushing and passing yards, and they are 89th in scoring offense.
They are undefeated at this point in the season at 7-0, have the second best defense in the country as far as points per game at 9.2, and have beaten three ranked teams (#18 Michigan, #10 Michigan State, and #17 Stanford).
It would be hard for Notre dame to do much better on defense than they have already. They have come to play in every game they’ve had so far, and that’s all you can ask. The only problem that I can see is that they have yet to play a team that is ranked in the top third in the country in scoring offense.
They could stand to have a more explosive offense, which is ranked 100th nationally in passing yards and 77th in scoring. They have only two games in which they have scored more than twenty points (50 against Navy and 41 against Miami). Both of those games were away games for Notre Dame, but they were also road games for Navy and Miami, and that always means that Notre Dame has the advantage with its national following.
Notre Dame’s last five game feature three very mediocre teams (vs. Pittsburgh, @ Boston College, vs. Wake Forest) which are book-ended by their two toughest tests of the year (@ #8 Oklahoma and @ #9 Southern Cal).
The highest ranked offenses Notre Dame has played so far are Purdue at #49, followed closely by Michigan at #54. They have played two teams that are ranked below #100 (#100 Navy and #109 Michigan State). Oklahoma’s offense is ranked number five in the country, and Notre Dame has to play the game in Norman. If Notre Dame wants to prove themselves, this is the game to do it. Oklahoma may not go to the national championship this year, but their offense is one hell of a lot better than Purdue’s or Michigan’s.
Geno Smith is not the shoe-in for the Heisman that he was two weeks ago.
Back-to-back embarrassing losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State by a combined 76 points has put a damper on his Heisman hopes. Kansas State held West Virginia without an offensive touchdown until the middle of the fourth quarter, when KSU was up 52-7. Smith threw his first two interceptions on the season, and it’s going to be a lot harder to gain back the momentum that the West Virginia offense had at the beginning of the season than it was to build it up in the first place. Also, it doesn’t help that West Virginia has the #119th ranked scoring in the country.
West Virginia doesn’t exactly have a cakewalk ahead of them. Their remaining schedule is vs. TCU, @Oklahoma State, vs. #8 Oklahoma, @Iowa State, and vs. Kansas. Their only break is the bye week this Saturday. The only team on that remaining schedule that hasn’t been ranked all year is Kansas. Point-a-minute offense may not last here.