What was deemed a trap game by many, ended up being Notre Dame’s eighth win of the season and it was never in much doubt. The Irish improved to 8-0 on the year after a 45-31 victory over the Eagles of Boston College. What stood out most to me was the fact that (in my opinion) neither side of the ball played their A game, yet the Irish were in control for the majority of the game. For the second consecutive week, Notre Dame puts up over 40 points and remains undefeated.
On the offensive side of the ball, Irish wide receiver Ben Skowronek emerged as an absolute monster. Hauling in three VERY impressive touchdown passes, Skowronek was responsible for five total receptions for 63 yards. After Javon McKinley’s impressive outing against Clemson, Skowronek’s emergence seems to have added a second receiving threat for opposing defenses to need to worry about. With all that success through the air, quarterback Ian Book’s numbers were rather impressive as well. Book finished Saturday’s game completing 20 of his 27 passes for 283 yards in the air and three touchdowns. Not only were the numbers through the air impressive, but Book was also Notre Dame’s leading rusher with 10 carries for 85 yards and another score on the ground. This is the Ian Book that Irish fans have been waiting to see – I think he is playing up to his true potential and if he can stay on this trajectory for the remainder of the year, I’m confident in his abilities to lead this Irish team far. One lingering concern that made its presence known once again is the fumbling issue. While Book continued to remain perfect, not giving up any interceptions, Notre Dame lost three fumbles against the Eagles which is not what you want to see. In games like this against inferior opponents, these fumbles did not significantly impact the outcome of the game but as the season progresses, these mistakes will get amplified. Three turnovers against top tier teams could very easily lead to 21 points going in the other direction and having to dig out of that sort of whole is not easy for any program to do.
Other than the fumbles lost, the Irish offense took another big blow when it was announced that starting center Jarrett Patterson has been ruled out for the remainder of the year after suffering a foot injury on Saturday. This Notre Dame offensive line has been playing so well this year and losing any one of the five linemen is rather substantial. On the bright side, whoever the Irish coaching staff names as his replacement will have additional time to prepare during the upcoming bye week. Offensive lines are truly a sum of their parts so whoever comes in to replace Patterson will undoubtedly be tested by the opposing teams’ defenses. The Irish have been blessed to have a lot of talent on the line though so I wouldn’t expect a serious drop-off in skill from Patterson’s back up.
Defensively, sophomore linebacker Jack Kiser came up with Notre Dame’s lone interception on Saturday although there were multiple other opportunities for Jurkovec’s passes to be picked off. Shaun Crawford led the way with five tackles followed up closely by Drew White’s four. After a tremendous effort stopping the Clemson offense the week prior, there were visual signs of fatigue among the Notre Dame defense and the bye week will hopefully provide some much needed rest and recovery. Although it seems to be a point of concern for some, the 31 points given up to Boston College is not something that I think is worth getting worked up over. The Eagles definitely have the talent to put up those sorts of numbers but the interception and fumble lost were hinderances to their progress. I was surprised that Clark Lea didn’t dial up more blitz packages against Jurkovec as it seemed that he got “happy feet” every time an Irish defender was in the backfield. Yes, Jurkovec does have an outstanding arm but I would have liked to see him make his reads while having to deal with a lot more pressure.
The Irish defense didn’t play poorly by any means though. Holding the Eagles’ offense to 272 passing yards, 85 rushing yards, and an average of 5.5 yards per play (compared to Notre Dame’s 7.6 yards per play average) was no small feat. This defensive unit has been impressive all year and I expect their contributions to continue to be prevalent in the remaining three regular season games. It is not usual to have a bye week this late into the season but I think it is coming at a great time for the defense to be able to get the necessary recovery before making the final push to close out the year. All in all, after improving to 8-0 on the year, the Irish took care of business in this “trap game”. Now it’s time to rest up for Notre Dame’s next matchup coming on Friday November 27th against the North Carolina Tar Heels.