Notre Dame running back throws fuel on BYU-Notre Dame matchup: ‘Their players don’t match the players we have’

BYU and Notre Dame will meet in Las Vegas as part of the Irish’s Shamrock Series on Saturday

(Michael Conroy | AP) Notre Dame running back Audric Estime (7) picks up a first down in front of California linebacker Myles Jernigan (33) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. Notre Dame defeated California 24-17.

It didn’t appear that BYU needed any help getting up for its headline matchup with Notre Dame in Las Vegas. But that didn’t mean it wouldn’t get any.

Enter Notre Dame running back Audric Estime, who said this when asked if BYU poses a challenge to the Fighting Irish:

“They are a good team and got a lot of good players,” Estime said. “But I feel like their players don’t match the players we have. If we just play our football, I feel like we should handle business.”

Notre Dame, despite being 2-2 and unranked, is going into the game as the favorite on Saturday. Estime’s comments only inflamed the narrative that BYU might be a top 20 team in the country, but it is still chasing Notre Dame.

For the better part of the last week, BYU’s players and coaches didn’t back away from the importance the game holds for the Cougars and the significance of playing one of the most historic programs in the sport.

“I’m not shy about it,” BYU special teams coordinator Ed Lamb said. “This, to me, is a storied program. BYU is too. But [Notre Dame] is one that unless you grew up on a different continent, playing a different sport or something like that, you know Notre Dame football.

“... It’s a red letter game.”

Estime will likely be a big part of Notre Dame’s offense on Saturday. Through four games, he has 54 carries for 264 yards and four touchdowns.

The game is part of Notre Dame’s Shamrock Series and will act as home venue for the Irish. As a result, Notre Dame has a controlling share of the tickets.

Originally, this matchup was supposed to be the return game in Provo after BYU visited South Bend twice in 2012 and 2013. However, it was always unlikely that the Irish would make the trip to Provo. In order to play the game, BYU agreed to go to Las Vegas and make it a Notre Dame home game.