Ridley excited for Irish rematch

The Cougars are coming off an expected win over Idaho State while the Irish had a bye week and are looking to rebound after losing 28-21 to Pitt two weeks ago. The last time BYU played Notre Dame, the Cougars suffered a narrow loss despite the Irish being a national championship-caliber team. This could serve as a boost of confidence for the Cougars as they return to South Bend this Saturday.

The Pitt Panthers outlasted the Fighting Irish two weeks ago, despite Notre Dame racking up 456 total yards of offense, to strip them of their top-25 ranking. The Cougars, on the other hand, soundly defeated Idaho State, racking up 578 total yards of offense in the process. Most of that production came on the ground as the Cougar passing attack struggled a bit.

"I think that we need to be more consistent with a team like that who, you know, doesn't have the same type of players or prestige and program," Ridley said. "A smaller school, we need to prove week in and week out that we can be consistent throwing, catching, and executing … we understood that Idaho State has a smaller program. They had some good players, but we need to be more consistent, especially going into a big game like we have this week with Notre Dame. So, we just sharpened up some things with throwing and catching."

Having lost to Wisconsin, which would have added another marquee win in the check box, the Cougars have another shot of getting a marquee win against Notre Dame, which has gone undefeated so far against other independent teams this year. A win over Notre Dame, which defeated Navy and Army this year, would crown BYU the champion of independents.

"Every game we want to win, and for us, we don't have a conference, but Notre Dame has so far beaten the independent teams that they've played," Ridley said. "So, if you want to call it our conference championship, that's something I think that would motivate us maybe a little bit to step up and play, but I wouldn't say that it's a must-win for our program. I think we've proven that we can play with [big] teams, and for us I think we just need to be confident in ourselves that we can – no matter who it is, going to another place or teams coming here – win the big game."

So as the Cougars get set in their effort to add another check mark in the big game column, it won't be easy. Notre Dame is 7-3 with wins over currently ranked teams Michigan State, Arizona State and USC, the latter of which just defeated fifth-ranked Stanford last weekend.

"I think we want this one really bad, and I think it would hurt to lose this one at this point," said Ridley. "I think we've made the strides that we've wanted to. We just haven't come up with the [wins] that we've hoped to achieve this year, so yeah, I think our mindset is we really want this one."

BYU narrowly lost last year to Notre Dame, a team that went to the national championship game, making a victory against the Irish this Saturday even more desirable.

"Oh yeah, that adds to it," said Ridley. "It was a tough-fought game and we had a chance there at the end to win it, so it's just a little bit more motivation to go in there again this year and play a good game.

"Yeah, I remember watching the national championship, saying, 'Man, we could have beaten these guys.' I was glad to see that we played well against a team that went to the national championship, and I think that gives us a little bit of confidence this year going in there saying that we played well with them last year."

Ridley wasn't a starting receiver last year, but the senior remembers taking in the ambiance of Notre Dame Stadium.

"I remember getting there a little bit earlier, walking around the stadium, going to the top of the stadium, going up to the top and taking a look at Touchdown Jesus," said Ridley. "It's such a historical place and going there for the first time, for a lot of our team, it was a unique experience."

He admits that there might have been some intimidation being that it was the first time his teammates had been to South Bend. However, he feels this time around things will be a little different.

"I don't know if that influenced the way that we played, just maybe intimidation. I don't think that played a role as much as just maybe some injuries and some tough play calls and things that didn't go our way. I think this year because we've been there before, that will help."

The Fighting Irish may have lost last year's running backs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood, but they return a very capable back in George Atkinson III. The player BYU will have to most watch out for is senior do-everything player T.J. Jones, who racked up over 200 all-purpose yards against Pitt's defense. The Cougar offense will have bring its A-game this week in order to match the Irish offensive capabilities.

"They just kind of move the ball down the field and score touchdowns and play good defense," said Ridley. "They're good up front, so what we have to do well to give Taysom some time and then convert on third down, which is big, and we didn't do very well last year. I'm just really excited to go back there and play again."

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