Notre Dame vs. Boston College: Complete Game Preview
Pack your bags, folks. The next stop to an undefeated season for Notre Dame is Chestnut Hill, Mass., where the Fighting Irish will take on Boston College in the 22nd edition of the Holy War.
Notre Dame leads the all-time series with the Eagles, 12-9, and has won three consecutive meetings.
The trip to New England will be the first for the Irish since October 2, 2010, when they defeated Boston College, 31-13, in Brian Kelly's inaugural season as head coach.
How will Notre Dame fare in its return trip to the Boston area?
Let's find out.
Who: Notre Dame at Boston College
When: Saturday, 8 p.m. (EDT)
Where: Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Stadium: Alumni Stadium (44,500)
Weather Forecast: High 50, Low 37, 0% chance of rain, wind NNE at 6 mph
Radio: IMG Notre Dame Radio Network
Internet Stream: N/A
Depth Chart for Notre Dame
QB—Everett Golson, Andrew Hendrix OR Tommy Rees
RB—Theo Riddick OR George Atkinson III OR Cierre Wood, Cam McDaniel
WR—TJ Jones, DaVaris Daniels
WR—Robby Toma, Davonte' Neal
WR—John Goodman, Daniel Smith
TE—Tyler Eifert, Ben Koyack
LT—Zack Martin, Ronnie Stanley
RT—Christian Lombard, Nick Martin
C—Braxston Cave, Mike Golic, Jr.
LG—Chris Watt, Conor Hanratty
RG—Mike Golic, Jr., Bruce Heggie
DE—Kapron Lewis-Moore, Sheldon Day
DE—Stephon Tuitt, Tony Springmann
NG—Louis Nix III, Kona Schwenke
LB—Prince Shembo, Ishaq Williams
LB—Dan Fox, Carlo Calabrese
LB—Manti Te'o, Jarrett Grace
LB—Danny Spond, Ben Councell
CB—Bennett Jackson, Jalen Brown
CB—KeiVarae Russell, Josh Atkinson
FS—Zeke Motta, Nicky Baratti
SS—Matthias Farley, Chis Salvi
Depth Chart for Boston College
QB—Chase Rettig, Josh Bordner
RB—David Dudeck, Rolandan Finch
WR—Alex Amidon, Donte Elliott
WR—Johnathan Coleman, Dan Crimmins
WR—Bobby Swigert OR Spiffy Evans
TE—Chris Pantale, Mike Giacone
LT—Emmett Cleary, Dan Lembke
LG—Bobby Vardaro, Harris Williams
C—Andy Gallik, Paul Gaughan
RG—Seth Betancourt, Bryan Davis
RT—John Wetzel, Aaron Kramer
DE—Kieran Borcich, Mehdi Abdesmad
DT—Connor Wujciak, Max Ricci
NT—Bryan Murray, Dominic Appiah
DE—Brian Mihalik OR Kasim Edebali
SLB—Steele Divitto, Tim Joy
MLB—Nick Clancy, Sean Duggan
WLB—Steven Daniels, Josh Keyes
FC—Manuel Asprilla, Bryce Jones
BC—Sean Sylvia, Ameer Richardson
FS—Justin Simmons, C.J. Jones
SS—Jim Noel OR Spenser Rositano
Full Depth Chart here
What Happened to the Fighting Irish Last Week
Notre Dame survived its closest scare last Saturday, defeating Pittsburgh, 29-26, in triple overtime at Notre Dame Stadium to keep its undefeated record intact.
Ghosts of last season seemed to be present in South Bend, as the Irish lost the turnover battle, 3-0. Both Everett Golson and Tommy Rees threw an interception, while running back Cierre Wood fumbled on Pittsburgh's goal line in the second overtime period.
Despite the mistakes and overall sloppy play from Brian Kelly's squad, the Irish managed to pull out the win thanks to a 1-yard touchdown run from Everett Golson in the third overtime period that sealed the contest.
For a full recap of Notre Dame's victory over Pittsburgh, click here.
What Happened to the Eagles Last Week
Boston College dropped to 1-5 in Atlantic Coast Conference play after a 28-14 loss to Wake Forest at Groves Stadium last Saturday.
The Eagles were doomed by four turnovers from quarterback Chase Rettig, three of which were interceptions. Rettig also lost a fumble at his own 25-yard line that was returned by Wake Forest to the Boston College 15-yard line.
Frank Spaziani's team didn't receive much help from its defense, as the Demon Deacons rolled to 409 total yards. That offensive output was aided by Wake Forest receiver Michael Campanaro, who hauled in 16 receptions for 123 yards and three touchdowns.
For a full recap of Boston College's loss to Wake Forest, click here.
What It Means to Both Teams
Because Boston College is the home team, I'll begin with what Saturday's contest means for head coach Frank Spaziani's squad.
Because of the Eagles' ugly start to the 2012 season—Boston College owns a record of 2-7 through nine games—fans have called for the firing of Spaziani. The 47-year-old Penn State graduate has a winning percentage of just .445 through his current fourth season as head coach in Chestnut Hill.
Clearly, Spaziani's job security is in danger, and winning is the only way to change that. A golden opportunity (see what I did there?) awaits Spaziani on Saturday in the form of his Eagles' matchup with No. 4 Notre Dame. A victory over the Irish, particularly in primetime and on national television, would give Boston College athletic director Brad Bates enough reason to consider keeping Spaziani.
Across the field from Spaziani will be Brian Kelly, who has the coolest seat in America, having guided the Fighting Irish to an undefeated record through nine games.
With Kelly's team in the thick of the national title discussion, a convincing victory over Boston College will give the BCS voters something to think about while they fill out their ballots on Sunday afternoon.
Key Player for Notre Dame
Key Player: Notre Dame secondary
Per usual, I've elected to choose a unit rather than an individual for this week's key player.
This week, I've tabbed the Irish secondary as the key player, and for good reason.
Boston College has had difficulty piecing together any semblance a running game this season, as the Eagles are cellar dwellers in rushing offense at 118th nationally in the statistic, averaging an abysmal 74.67 yards per game on the ground.
Thus, the Boston College offense has been forced to attack defenses through the air, which has become its specialty. The Eagles have hung an average of 289 passing yards per game on their opponents this season.
And facing a Notre Dame secondary that yielded 356 passing yards to Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones should give the Eagles small hope in their chances at moving the ball on Saturday evening. Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco will align his cornerbacks roughly 10-15 yards off the line of scrimmage in an effort to take away the big play over the top.
If the Eagles can methodically move down the field with intermediate passes, they may make the game down to the wire.
Key Player for Boston College
Key Player: Chase Rettig, QB
To the dismay of Boston College fans, the Eagles offense has gone as far as Rettig has carried it this season.
Boston College's 28-14 loss to Wake Forest is simply a microcosm of the entire season for Rettig, as the junior turned the ball over four times, three on interceptions. Despite those four turnovers, his team only lost by two touchdowns, which should be a concern to Wake Forest, but that's a matter for a different article.
The positive takeaway is that Rettig only threw five interceptions in Boston College's eight games prior to the loss to Wake Forest.
How Rettig fares against a stiff Notre Dame defense will likely be the key for Boston College.
Notre Dame Will Win If...
Notre Dame will win if its defensive front seven pressures Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig into turning the ball over, which he showed a penchant for during the Eagles' loss to Wake Forest a week ago.
As I alluded to earlier, the Eagles have struggled mightily running the football this season, so Rettig has been counted upon to move the football through the air. That didn't work out so well for Rettig last week, as he threw three interceptions.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Irish must establish their running game early and often in order to open up the vertical passing game for sophomore quarterback Everett Golson.
Notre Dame must also protect the football, as it had done well prior to last week's win over Pittsburgh, in which the Irish turned it over three times.
Boston College Will Win If...
Boston College will win if it takes away Notre Dame's rushing attack that is bolstered by a solid offensive line, as well as running backs Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood.
The Irish have prided themselves on running the football this season, which, surprisingly, has become the foundation of third-year head coach Brian Kelly's offense.
If Notre Dame has problems establishing a consistent rushing attack, the Irish will be forced to turn to Everett Golson to move the football through the air, which has become less and less of a risk as the season has gone on. Yet Golson has had the luxury of an effective running game to lean on when the passing game sputters.
The Eagles' chances at winning will also be bolstered if they can win the turnover battle, just as Pittsburgh did last week.
The last two times Boston College encountered an undefeated Notre Dame team, it sprung monumental upsets. Those two matchups in 1993 and 2002, are games that Irish fans would like to forget.
However, those Boston College teams were leaps and bounds better than this year's edition, which currently sits at 2-7.
And with a head coach who is coaching to save his job, winning won't come easily, especially against an Irish team ranked 10th nationally in total defense.
Notre Dame will roll to its 10th win of the season on Saturday evening in Chestnut Hill.
My Prediction: Notre Dame 35, Boston College 13