Quinn threw for 467 yards and six touchdowns and Maurice Stovall had his best day in an Irish uniform to lead Notre Dame over the Cougars 49-23 and end a four-game home losing streak. A sellout crowd saw the Irish quarterback break the single season (20) and game (6) records for touchdown passes. Stovall's big day of 14 catches for 207 yards and four touchdowns also bested the single game touchdown and reception mark for a Notre Dame wide receiver. Head coach Charlie Weis let Quinn win or lose this game and the gamble paid off.
"I put more of the game in his hands," Weis said. "Obviously, we didn't run the ball very many times. The risk you take when you do that is that if the quarterback has a bad day, you lose. That's a calculated risk you have to take. I have no problems putting the game into his hands.
"It's funny because the guy from NBC at halftime came up to me and said, ‘You going to run the ball in the second half?' And I said, ‘Not if they keep blitzing.' They look at me like I'm stupid. I'm looking at them like they're stupid. I don't know who is right or wrong. Football doesn't have to be as complicated as some people make it out to be sometimes."
Weis abandoned the running game in favor of exploiting a blitzing BYU defense and it worked to great success. Through three quarters, Notre Dame had 25 first downs with 24 of them coming via the pass. Of the 511 total yards the Irish accumulated, 467 were from the pass. For the game, the Irish only ran for 44 yards but didn't need to pound the ball because of an explosive air attack. BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall knew his players just ran into a better team.
"I congratulate Coach Weis and the Notre Dame football team," Mendenhall said. "They are an excellent team and have an outstanding program. I think he's doing a fantastic job coaching them and that was reflected today. They deserved to win. They outperformed us in every area and that was reflected in the score. The quarterback had an excellent day as well as the wide receiver. We did not perform at our best today. I'm responsible for that. We're looking forward to getting back on track."
Quinn was lights out in the decisive third quarter, going 7-for-10 for 182 yards and three touchdowns. Stovall found pay dirt with a 36-yard touchdown pass from Quinn to give the Irish a 35-23 lead. This 51-second drive responded to BYU's comeback attempt. Down 28-10, Cougar quarterback John Beck ran 10-yards for a touchdown and three minutes later hit Todd Watkins on a scoring connection to cut the Notre Dame lead to 28-23 with five minutes remaining in the third quarter. A quick hitter to Stovall turned into a 24-yard catch and run score to make it 42-23 Notre Dame and put the game out of reach.
BYU struck early in the first quarter. A 44-yard field goal by Jared McLaughlin put the Cougars up 3-0. Notre Dame showed its hand the very first offensive possession and BYU never knew what hit them. Using an empty backfield and no huddle, Quinn went 6-for-7 on a 62-yard scoring march, capped off by a 10-yard touchdown strike to Stovall for a 7-3 Notre Dame lead.
"The intent of empty was to jump start the offense to make sure we didn't come out flat," Weis said. "Obviously I was concerned with that. Sometimes my play calling takes care of them not being flat."
Beck, who finished the day 20-of-32 for 237 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, would not let the Cougars go down without a fight. They responded with a four play, 52-yard drive that saw Jonny Harline catch a perfect fade route in the back of the end zone to give BYU a 10-7 lead after the end of the first quarter. The back and forth affair continued when Quinn threw his second touchdown pass of the day to Jeff Samardzija to give the lead back to the Irish 14-10. Samardzija finished the day with 10 catches for 152 yards and two scores. The second touchdown, his 11th of the year, tied him with Derrick Mayes for the most receiving touchdowns for a season in Notre Dame history. Samardzija and Stovall also became the first Irish receivers to each have 10 or more catches in the same game.
"We talked all week and game planned that we weren't going to let them get away by playing 10 yards of our receivers," Quinn said. "They're too talented to play 10 yards off of them."
The Irish used an array of quick hitters and short passes to pound BYU into submission. They also used these short passes to set up Stovall's second touchdown. Quinn faked a quick throw to the 6-5 senior receiver, the BYU cornerback took the bait and Stovall was wide open in the end zone for a 21-10 Notre Dame lead which they took into the locker room at halftime.