Here's a look at some of the news and notes from No. 5 Notre Dame's 17-14 victory over visiting Brigham Young Saturday night, which moved the Fighting Irish to 7-0 this season:
Junior outside linebacker Prince Shembo and the Irish defense gave QB Tommy Rees set up the Irish offense to complete the come-from-behind win over BYU
• Senior linebacker Manti Te’o picked off his fourth pass of the season in the first quarter versus Brigham Young, which is tied for the team lead along with junior cornerback Bennett Jackson. Junior outside linebacker Danny Spond intercepted BYU quarterback Riley Nelson in the final seconds to seal the victory for the Irish, which now have forced 17 turnovers through seven games compared to 14 turnovers in all of 2011. Notre Dame entered the contest ranked eighth nationally in interceptions after snagging just eight last fall. Te’o is one pick short of setting the program record for interceptions by a linebacker in a season. Lyron Cobbins (1995) and John Pergine (1966) each had five picks.
• Before facing the Cougars, Notre Dame had allowed only two touchdowns out of 16 trips by opponents to the red zone, including the last 11 straight. Brigham Young, however, scored on its first two trips into scoring territory. Prior to Saturday’s game, the Irish were tied with Alabama for first in the Football Bowl Subdivision in red-zone defense (.500), which includes both touchdowns and field goals allowed.
• The Notre Dame defense hadn’t allowed a touchdown in 17 quarters (and an overtime), but watched that stellar spree come to an end when BYU got on the scoreboard with a six-yard passing touchdown midway through the second quarter to tie the game at 7-7. It was the longest stretch the defense had kept opposing offenses out of the end zone since 1980, when Notre Dame set a school record by not allowing an offensive TD for 23 straight quarters.
• Notre Dame continues down a similar path as the 2002 squad. The victory over BYU marked the seventh consecutive victory of the 2012 season, which is the longest streak to start a season since the Fighting Irish rattled off eight straight a decade ago before losing to Boston College at home. It’s the 25th time in school history the program has started 7-0 and it’s the longest winning streak since the 2006 team put together eight in a row after losing in Week 3. The scrappy win over the Cougars also improved Notre Dame to 416-133-15 (.751) when ranked in the top 25. The Irish were ranked No. 5 in both the Associated Press and BCS polls heading into the contest, and improved to 177-44-7 (.792) when ranked among the top five.
• After the Cougars capitalized on an Irish turnover in the third quarter, when they went 30 yards in four plays to take a 14-7 lead, the Irish defense came out in the second half and allowed only 115 total yards of offense and no points. Opponents have yet to find a way to score a touchdown on the ground against Notre Dame in 2012. The Irish, which only allowed eight rushing touchdowns in 2011, are the only program in the FBS that have shut opposing rushers out of the end zone through seven games. The Irish defense also didn’t allow a rushing touchdown in the final two games of the 2011 campaign and has surrendered a rushing score just nine times over the past 25 games. Only Alabama has allowed fewer rushing touchdowns (six) over the same stretch.
• BYU came to South Bend boasting the third-best rushing defense in the country after allowing only 67.86 yards per game. Notre Dame went off for 272 rushing yards (the most against Brigham Young all season), including 159 in the second half. Irish senior running back Theo Riddick rumbled for 143 yards and classmate Cierre Wood tallied 114 — the two highest individual outputs against the Cougars all year. It was the second time this season two Irish running backs eclipsed the century mark, with Riddick and sophomore George Atkinson III doing the same against Miami in Chicago on Oct. 6.
• Though it wasn’t junior quarterback Tommy Rees’ finest career performance (7-for-16 passing for 117 yards, one touchdown and an interception), it did mark his 14th victory as the starter spanning three years. He’s now 14-4 as the starter dating back to the 2010 season, when he took over at the end of the year for an injured Dayne Crist. The touchdown pass to senior tight end Tyler Eifert in the first quarter was the 34th of Rees’ career, which ties him with Jarious Jackson (1996-99) for fifth on the school’s all-time touchdown list.
• Eifert’s team-high four snags for 57 yards and a touchdown — a 24-yard reception in the fourth quarter that tied Stanford at 10-10 — on Oct. 13 was the kind of performance most expected when the Fort Wayne, Ind., product decided not to enter the NFL Draft a year early. His four catches for 73 yards and a touchdown against BYU also was a team high. Eifert now has 10 career touchdown catches, making him just the second Irish player at that position to accomplish that feat along with Ken MacAfee (15 from 1974-77).
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