Las Vegas, NV– The University of Notre Dame (3-2) football team earned a 28-20 victory over the No. 16 BYU (4-2) Cougars Saturday evening at Allegiant Stadium in the Fighting Irish’s annual Shamrock Series game.
The Irish outgained the Cougars 496 to 280 in the game, where the BYU offense didn’t start going until it was too late.
The game was the 11th edition of Notre Dame’s annual Shamrock Series and marked the first time the Irish faced a fellow FBS Independent since a 44-6 victory over Army in 2016.
Notre Dame improved to 11-0 all-time in its Shamrock Series, in front of an announced gathering of 62,742, the largest crowd for a college athletic event in Nevada history.
Irish head coach Marcus Freeman spoke about tight end Michael Mayer as a work in progress.
He also called him a freak and a heck of a football player after he caught 11 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns to become the school’s all-time receptions leader for a tight end as Notre Dame won its third straight.
“The thing you love about Michael Mayer is he’s the hardest worker,” Freeman said. “He’s an unfinished product, but he understands that. He wants to get better. He doesn’t want to be told what he does well, he wants to be told how he can improve and that’s a special player.”
The Cougars got on the board quickly, utilizing a nice punt return to put BYU with first and 10 on the Irish 26-yard line. Notre Dame defense tightened in the red zone, stopping the Cougars three-straight runs inside the five to force a fourth and two. BYU threw into the flat for the touchdown. A delay of game put some pressure on the kicker, where the attempt was missed and the Cougars held a 6-3 lead.
“Today’s not about me, today’s about the team getting a big win,” Mayer said. “The offense played great, the defense played great, we came to Vegas and got a W and that’s all that matters.”
The Irish took the lead early in the second. Mayer caught a 24-yard pass from Drew Pyne for his sixth catch of the game. That catch was his 141st in his career, making him the new career receptions leader for a tight end in Notre Dame history. With the extra point, the ND took a 10-6 lead with 14:19 left to go in the first half.
First-half offensive struggles and missed opportunities in the second half doomed BYU chances of beating the Fighting Irish.
Despite playing a bit dinged up from last week’s game against Utah State, BYU quarterback Jaren Hill finished 9 of 17 for 120 yards passing with two touchdowns. Chris Brooks ran for 90 yards on 14 carries, including one touchdown, while Kody Epps caught four passes for 100 yards and had two touchdowns.
“I don’t think he was 100%. He definitely was banged up,” BYU coach Kalani Sitake said of Hall. “We have to go back and figure out what our game plan was, and what he can do.”
Trailing 25-6 early in the second half, BYU made it a game by scoring 14 unanswered points to make it 25-20.
After Brooks cut Notre Dame’s lead to five with a 28-yard touchdown dash, Cougars linebacker Max Tooley picked off Pyne and put the ball back in the BYU’s hands. But the Cougars couldn’t do anything with the ball and went three and out.
Drew Pyne threw for 262 yards and three touchdowns for Notre Dame, while running backs Logan Diggs and Audric Estime chipped with a combined effort of 190 yards on the ground.
Notre Dame finished 11 of 16 on third downs, while its defense held BYU to just 3 of 9 with its third-down conversion attempts.
“This was a home game for us, the fans showed out,” Mayer said of the pro-Notre Dame crowd.
BYU: Returns home to host Arkansas on Saturday.
Notre Dame: Will play the first of back-to-back home games on Saturday, against Stanford.