Brian Kelly is known for high-powered spread offense. He has a senior quarterback playing his final home game in legendary Notre Dame Stadium.
And the weather will be cold and windy, traditionally an advantage for Irish teams.
So Notre Dame wins easy over Brigham Young on Saturday right? Not so fast. None of those things will matter this Saturday. In fact, some will work against Kelly and his troops.
These three things will determine your winner.
1. Notre Dame's Tommy Rees is making his final start against BYU on senior day tomorrow. He has played all four years of Kelly's tenure at Notre Dame and started most of three full seasons. BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall will be playing a sophmore. On the road at legendary Notre Dame Stadium.
Advantage, BYU. Ask Mack Brown. Cougar quarterback Taysom Hill rushed for 259 yeard and 3 touchdowns against Texas earlier this season. Hill is the real deal. He ran roughshod over the Longhorns in Austin so he won't be intimidated by the history of the Fighting Irish.
And yes, he's a sophmore, but he's also 23 years of age, older than Rees. (Hill served as a missionary for BYU.) Brian Kelly has to be green with envy. Hill is exacly the kind of quarterback Kelly covets and had last year in Everett Golson when the Irish made a run to the BCS Title Game. Instead he still has Rees, the antithesis of what Kelly needs for his offense.
2. Louis Nix is out. This is a big blow for the Irish. The senior nose guard had surgery on a torn meniscus Thursday and is done for the year. Kelly was expecting to have Nix and fellow All-American Stephon Tuitt together against the Cougars along with fellow defensive line starter Sheldon Day for the first time in a long time for Saturday's battle between the NCAA's top two independents. No dice.
Coming in to 2013 Kelly thought the defensive line would be the strenghth of his team. Injuries derailed that notion. And likely their biggest advantage against the Cougars. BYU has struggled on the offensive front most of this season and a healthy defensive line playing together again would have given Kelly a leg up in containing Hill. Not anymore. Advantage BYU.
3. The weather is going to be cold and windy, with game temperature dropping down to the 15 degree mark by the it's over. Rees doesn't have the arm to combat the wind and can't run to compensate for it.
Hill will have the advantage of running on a frozen turf against a beat up defense that hasn't played anybody that plays at the tempo that BYU does. If you haven't seen BYU this season, think Oregon. Mendenhall's outfit averages 87 plays a game. Advantage BYU.
At the beginning of the season this looked like a win for the Irish. Now it looks like a battle to salvage what they can out of this season.