Riddick powers Notre Dame past BYU

Riddick powers Notre Dame past BYU
October 20, 2012, 10:53 pm
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Theo Riddick never once felt like Notre Dame would lose on Saturday. Thanks to his efforts, the Irish didn't, and will head to Oklahoma with a 7-0 record following a 17-14 win over BYU Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.

The senior running back rushed for a career-high 143 yards, including runs for 55 and 19 yards that set up all 10 of Notre Dame's second-half points.

"I feel we just have a whole other level of confidence," Riddick said after the game. "No one puts their head down or anything. We all knew what we had to do in the second half and that was get more points than the opposing team, and we did that."

Riddick's 55-yard run sparked an Irish offense that had stagnated since the first quarter, allowing BYU to take a 14-7 lead at halftime. On a third-and-one from Notre Dame's 37, Riddick appeared to be bottled up at the line of scrimmage. But he broke free and raced 55 yards before being caught at the BYU eight.

"What he did more than anything else is that he ran north and south and he played physical. That gets an energy for everybody," coach Brian Kelly said. "The O-line sees a guy that's really pounding it in there. I think that he got us that energy that we needed."

Leading up to Saturday's game, Riddick fielded questions regarding his average yards per carry, which was under four -- much lower than that of Cierre Wood and George Atkinson III. But Riddick averaged 9.5 yards per carry on Saturday, with that average buoyed by success after the first hit.

"As hard as I've seen someone run," quarterback Tommy Rees evaluated. "He had so many yards after contact, and that's the kind of kid, the kind of runner he is."

It wasn't all Riddick, though -- his roommate helped a lot, too. Wood racked up 114 yards on 18 carries, helping pace Notre Dame to 270 rushing yards against a team that only allowed an average of 67.9 yards on the ground per game, the third-lowest in the nation.

"I think we both feed off each other," Riddick said, with Wood at his side mock-interviewing him. "Once we both see one of us make a big run or something like that, we get amped, very hyped up and things like that to make another play. And I think we did that today."

Thanks to the efforts of Riddick, Wood and Atkinson -- who only rushed five times for 11 yards, but scored the game-winning touchdown for Notre Dame -- the Irish pulled out yet another close victory. Four of Notre Dame's seven wins have been by seven points or less, with that standing in stark contrast to the team's 3-3 record in games decided by one possession last year.

"It goes to the toughness of our football team," Kelly said. "They believe they are going to win. There's no question they believe they are going to win, and if there's any questions out there, that's been eradicated over the last couple weeks."