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No. 16 BYU Sets Sights On Las Vegas Clash With Notre Dame

Oct 3, 2022, 1:46 AM | Updated: 8:28 pm
BYU Notre Dame, Allegiant Stadium...
BYU/Notre Dame will be played at Allegiant Stadium, home to the Las Vegas Raiders in the NFL. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)
(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – It feels like ancient history, but in 2010, BYU football announced a six-game series with Notre Dame. That scheduling announcement was a sign that BYU’s bold move to Independence could work.

Independence has worked for BYU as the Cougars are playing out their final year on their own before moving to the Big 12 Conference in 2023. On the other hand, the series with Notre Dame didn’t work too well for BYU.

Saturday’s game between No. 16 BYU and Notre Dame (5:30 p.m., KSL 5 TV & KSL NewsRadio) brings a scheduling series that has had many twists and turns to a close.

Nine years have passed since the last BYU/Notre Dame matchup

The initial agreement consisted of four games in South Bend and two visits from the Irish in Provo. That quickly shrunk to a three-game series after BYU fulfilled its first two games against Notre Dame in South Bend.

But then Notre Dame lined up a scheduling agreement with the ACC. That gave the Independent Irish at least four to six games per year. BYU was never going to get that return trip to Provo. So the six-game scheduling agreement between the two faith-based schools quickly shrunk to three games.

It looked like the third game would result in a payday from the Irish to BYU.

Notre Dame paid visits to Provo under former coaches Lou Holtz in 1993 and Ty Willingham in 2004. BYU won the 2004 meeting, and the Irish haven’t returned to Utah.

BYU has been to South Bend three times since Notre Dame was in Provo in 2004. The Irish lead the all-time series between the two schools, six to two.

Clash in Sin City

BYU athletic director Tom Holmoe was constantly asked by the local media in Q&A sessions for years about the last Notre Dame game. Provo wasn’t an option, but Holmoe still wanted the game to happen, so Las Vegas became the landing spot for the third and final game of the long, drawn-out process.

The final game in this scheduling arrangement is a Notre Dame home game. It’s part of the Irish’s annual Shamrock Series. That’s why tickets for BYU fans were limited in the 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium venue.

But regardless of the circumstances, it’s an opportunity for 4-1 BYU to test themselves against one of the top brands in college football history. So naturally, BYU players are excited about the matchup.

“After the Manti Te’o [documentary on Netflix], I was thinking about that game, like this is about to be a big game because of what happened in that situation, and just this team is amazing,” said BYU wide receiver Kody Epps. “Notre Dame is traditionally an amazing team, and we have an amazing team going into Vegas too. So it’s about to be pretty sick. And I think the story is going to be epic, you know, for years to come.”

BYU’s defense, which comes into the matchup against the Irish ranked 73rd in scoring defense (26.4 points per game), is looking to get right after three weeks of underwhelming first-half performances.

“They’re always tough,” said BYU linebacker Max Tooley on Notre Dame. “…They are always one of the best in the country. Regardless of what people may say, you know, certain years, but we know they’re gonna come to play, they’re going to be physical, it’s going to be a big game.”

After last week’s win over Utah State, BYU took the weekend off for General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It’s back to work on Monday in preparation for Saturday night’s primetime showdown against Notre Dame.

No. 16 BYU vs. Notre Dame

Location: Allegiant Stadium (Las Vegas, Nevada)

Kickoff: 5:30 p.m. (MT)

TV: KSL 5 TV (Pregame coverage from Las Vegas begins at 5 p.m.)

Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM – Extended pregame in Vegas begins at noon)

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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