Riddick powers Notre Dame past BYU

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Riddick powers Notre Dame past BYU

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."

The ‘friendly rivalry’ between Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman with Cubs, Dodgers becoming NL superpowers

The ‘friendly rivalry’ between Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman with Cubs, Dodgers becoming NL superpowers

LOS ANGELES – A man stepped to the microphone during a Q&A session at Cubs Convention and called Theo Epstein and Andrew Friedman “the two boy geniuses.” The fan told Epstein how his friends used to call the Dodgers baseball boss “your Mini-Me,” asking about their personal rivalry and if beating L.A. in the playoffs had any extra meaning.

“We have a friendly rivalry,” Epstein told a packed hotel ballroom in downtown Chicago in January. “First off, didn’t he interview for an internship with us and we turned him down way back in the day?

“And then like nine months later, he was GM of the Rays. When he was with Tampa and I was with Boston, we never spoke, because we were in the same division. It was kind of a heated rivalry. We literally never called each other on trades or anything like that.”

But where it’s so difficult for the small-market Rays to keep up with the ultra-rich Red Sox – and replace Friedman’s vision and Joe Maddon’s star power and survive a string of wasted first-round draft picks and find a long-term stadium solution – the Cubs and Dodgers are positioned to be superpowers for years to come.

That’s what makes this Memorial Day weekend showdown at Dodger Stadium so compelling beyond the National League Championship Series rematch. It’s not just upcoming free agent Jake Arrieta returning to the site of his onesie no-hitter on Friday night, a reigning MVP (Kris Bryant) and Rookie of the Year (Corey Seager), two of the best closers on the planet (Wade Davis and Kenley Jansen) and a classic Jon Lester vs. Clayton Kershaw matchup on Sunday afternoon.

The Cubs eliminated the Dodgers less than a month after Epstein finalized a five-year contract worth in the neighborhood of $50 million, likely surpassing Friedman as the game’s highest-paid personnel executive.

“Jed developed a pretty good relationship with him, because I didn’t like talking to him,” Epstein said, referencing GM Jed Hoyer, another Boston transplant on the Cubs Convention panel that day. “But then when I came out here with the Cubs, a different league and everything, I developed a much better relationship with Andrew and we became friends, so now it’s much more of a friendly rivalry.

“I will say that losing to the Dodgers would have been a bitter pill to swallow on a number of fronts, including that one. But they’re developing a powerhouse out there.

“We see them as a team we have to go through each year to get where we want to be.”

[MORE CUBS: Summing up the Cubs' impressive, potentially season-altering homestand]

Backed by Guggenheim Partners’ financial muscle and flush with new TV money, the Dodgers have won four straight division titles and 90-plus games each season while ramping up a farm system that’s now ranked fourth, fifth or sixth by Baseball America, ESPN and MLB.com.

“Everyone’s got their own style and their own approach,” Epstein said. “Ours was more kind of bottom-up (where) they needed to keep it rolling at a high level in the big leagues while retooling their system and nurturing the talent that was already there.

“We had to go out and transact and bring some stuff in. We were at different points of the success cycle. They’ve done a really nice job of winning while kind of establishing something new at the same time.”

The blue-blooded franchise that produced 17 Rookie of the Year winners last month rolled out Cody Bellinger, a 21-year-old, left-handed first baseman with nine homers in his first 28 games in The Show. Julio Urias – who might be the next Fernando Valenzuela – is supposed to be conserving some innings at Triple-A Oklahoma City for another October where the Cubs could be standing in the way of the Dodgers’ first World Series title since 1988.

“They’ve been producing great young talent for a long period of time,” Epstein said. “If you go back and look at some of the young studs they have in the big leagues that (former scouting director) Logan White and (the previous regime) brought in, some of the guys are still coming.

“They’re stocked and the Dodger tradition runs really deep. With Andrew and his front office, we know they’re going to be dynamic. They’re going to have more resources than anyone. And they’re a big threat to the whole league for a long period of time.”

Could Derrick Rose reunite with Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota?

Could Derrick Rose reunite with Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota?

Tom Thibodeau was without Derrick Rose for the first time in his head-coaching career last season, coaching the Timberwolves while Rose suited up for the New York Knicks.

But a reunion may be on the horizon. Rose is an unrestricted free agent and the Timberwolves, though they don't have a real need at point guard, are showing interest in the Chicago native. We'll have to wait until July 1, when free agency begins, to see what happens.

See what special guest Nick Friedell, Bulls beat reporter for ESPN, had to say about the topic on SportsTalk Live in the video above.