Last week’s trip in the Notre Dame-Ohio State way back machine got me thinking about another once-in-a-blue-moon matchup on this season’s schedule.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish will take on the Brigham Young University Cougars on October 8 in Las Vegas’ Allegiant Stadium for the 2022 Shamrock Series game.
While the Shamrock Series is always exciting, this game will mark Notre Dame’s first trip to Nevada, the first meeting between the Irish and Cougars since 2013, and a shot at 11-0 in Shamrock Series games for the Irish.
A Holy War in Sin City
Few universities are as synonymous with their religious affiliations as BYU and Notre Dame. BYU is unique even among Christian universities in that all students must have an ecclesiastical endorsement and adhere to the university’s strict and controversial Honor Code. The BYU football team has evolved to become one of the most critical means of visibility for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
The religious aspects of both schools have allowed them to build fanbases that extend more widely than those of many state schools. People attach a bit more of themselves to these teams. A matchup like this just hits different.
‘Cause I Depend on Me and No Conference
This approach of a showdown between two independents is especially exciting as the plate tectonics of the conferences goes crazier by the hour. While Notre Dame has always been independent with the exception of that ACC schedule nonsense during the pandemic, BYU declared its independence from the Mountain West Conference in 2011 amid a rise in the university’s investment in football facilities and as rival Utah left the MWC for the PAC-12.
What’s the Backstory?
The Irish and Cougars have faced off eight times in total, and Notre Dame leads the series 6-2. Notre Dame and BYU met for the first time in 1992. Firepower from Notre Dame’s Jerome Bettis, Reggie Brooks, and Rick Mirer fueled a 42-16 Irish win. The Irish went on to overpower the Cougars in 1993, 2003, 2012, and 2005.
The Cougars delivered a shock to Lou Holtz’s leadership with a 21-14 win against the Irish in 1994 and notched their second victory against Notre Dame in 2004, 20-17.
The two teams last left things in 2013 with a 23-13 Irish win and solid showings from Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees and running back Cam McDaniel. Rees led this snowy, windy game off with a 61-yard TD pass to DaVaris Daniels and McDaniel rushed for a career-high 117 yards against the Cougars. The W against BYU was the first game in which the Irish had not trailed that season since the 2013 game against the Temple Owls.
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