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The 25th Holy War – Boston College vs. Notre Dame Preview

Ten games into the regular season and the Irish have been rolling as of recently.  Putting up 90 combined points in the last two outings, Notre Dame will look to keep the points coming against a Boston College defense that has been struggling throughout the season.  Not to mention, Saturday’s matchup is also Senior Day for the Fighting Irish.  This senior class were freshman during the less than ideal 4-8 year in 2016 but will look to end their careers at Notre Dame with two perfect home seasons if they can get the final win this Saturday.  Notre Dame will also be wearing 1988 throwback styled uniforms honoring that year’s National Championship team.

As we have been witnesses to, the Notre Dame offense has found an untapped gear during its last two outings and will look to continue their success against the Eagles of Boston College.  B.C. will enter Saturday’s matchup with a 5-5 record and if you ask any Eagles fan, they will tell you that the inconsistent play of the defense has been a big contributing factor to their .500 record.  Typical Boston College defenses seem to feature some hard nose, NFL caliber linebackers alongside physical players throughout the lineup.  There’s no doubt that this year’s Eagles defense has the ability to play physical and attack the ball, but their lack of collegiate experience has led to giving up big plays, missing quite a few tackles, and putting their offense in tough situations after giving up points.  This young defense is only averaging just about one sack per game this season, so if the Irish offensive line can continue to give Ian Book the time that he has had recently, I don’t expect the Eagles’ sack number to increase. 

Notre Dame offensively, has been going to whatever seems to be working on the day of the game.  The last contest against Navy, it was the Chase Claypool and the Irish receivers that were hot, catching passes and stretching the defenses downfield totaling 305 yards through the air.  Prior to Navy, it was the scrambling abilities of Book and the Irish rushing attack that totaled 288 yards on the ground that carried Notre Dame to victory.  It seems that it’s one group or the other that gets hot and the Irish stick with it.  It would be great to see a game in which both groups are firing, but although Boston College’s defense has been shaky this year, they have faired pretty well against the run.  This would lead me to believe that Saturday could be another big day for the Irish wide receivers.  If Notre Dame is able to jump out to a similar start that they did against Navy last weekend, I don’t see Boston College being able to claw their way back into a game in which they’re behind from the start.

When the Eagles are on offense, Notre Dame fans can expect to see sophomore quarterback Dennis Grosel leading the charge.  Grosel replaced former starting quarterback Anthony Brown who was injured in the Eagles matchup against Louisville back in October.  Grosel hasn’t shown much when it comes to throwing the deep ball, however he manages the game well and is not turnover prone.  The part of the Eagles offense to keep an eye on is their running game.  Led by a six foot, 250 pound beast of a running back named AJ Dillon, Boston College’s offensive game plan focuses around establishing and pounding the running game.  Dillon has already racked up nearly 1,500 yards on the season with 13 touchdowns through their 10 games.  With his stature, he isn’t afraid to use his muscle to steamroll a defender or his speed to blow past someone.  Dillon was pretty heavily recruited by Notre Dame as well – imagine adding him to the Irish backfield these past few seasons!  

For the Irish defense to be successful, they are going to try and replicate the same performance that they put on the field last weekend.  Playing fast, loose, and aggressive, the Irish defenders were flying to the ball and wreaking havoc.  Granted, I am not expecting them to force four fumbles but if they are able to contain Dillon and the ground attack, I think they can likely force Grosel into a misread or two resulting in some potential interceptions by the backend of the Irish defense.

As many of the Irish seniors have already been asked in their mid-week press conferences, emotions will be running high prior to the start of Saturday’s matchup.  Many of the players touched on the fact that they will be doing everything they can to take in their last home game day experience at Notre Dame, but once the clock starts and the first hits are laid, it will be about taking care of business.  The Irish are currently sitting as 19 point favorites going into Saturday which might sound a bit high until you realize that the Eagles’ defense has given up about 487 yards of total offense per game this year (comparatively, the Irish are only giving up 330 yards per game).  As Boston College traditionally plays Notre Dame very tough and to a closer than expected outcome, it will be interesting to see if this stereotype comes to fruition.  There is part of me that wants to predict a close scoring game as I have during the Irish’s last two outings just to be proven completely wrong, however I do think Notre Dame will be able to handle the Eagles and come away with a 38-17 victory.  Let’s hope that both the offense and defense can continue to build on their most recent outing and get the Irish their ninth win of the season.  Go Irish.  Beat Eagles.

A Look at Notre Dame’s Opponents:

Louisville: 6-4 overall, beat North Carolina State 34-20

New Mexico: 2-8 overall, lost to Boise State 42-9

Georgia: 9-1 overall, currently ranked #4, beat Auburn 21-14

Virginia: 7-3 overall, coming off bye week

Bowling Green: 3-8 overall, lost to Ohio 66-24

USC: 7-4 overall, beat California 41-17

Michigan: 8-2 overall, currently ranked #12, beat Michigan State 44-10

Virginia Tech: 7-3 overall, currently ranked #25, beat Georgia Tech 45-0

Duke: 4-6 overall, lost to Syracuse 49-6

Navy: 7-2 overall, lost to Notre Dame 52-20

Boston College: 5-5 overall, coming off bye week

Stanford: 4-6 overall, lost to Washington State 49-22