When the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Boston College Eagles meet in the 22nd rendition of "The Holy War", there will be more riding on the line than usual.
The two teams have been playing each other annually since 1992 and this will mark the first time this game has National Championship ramifications since Matt Ryan's BC team was ranked No. 4 going into the game in 2007.
The Irish chances of making it to the big game survived a scare last week from the Pittsburgh Panthers. Brian Kelly's squad found a way to win in triple overtime thanks to a few breaks and the characteristic resolve the team has had all season.
While Notre Dame should be the favorite, last week showed that it can't look past the Eagles in this rivalry game on the road. It's been a tough season in Chestnut Hill, but there's no doubt the Eagles will be looking to make history when the Irish come to town on Saturday.
The Eagles are 2-0 in the series when Notre Dame is ranked in the Top Five. Notre Dame absolutely has to win if it wants to keep its championship hopes alive. Something's gotta give, here's everything you need to know about this historic rivalry game.
When: Saturday, Nov. 10 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Live Stream: None Available
Radio: Free Football Radio
Spread: Boston College +19 (via Covers)
The tricky thing about predicting this Notre Dame team is that it's there's a lot of youth on the team. With any young team, there's going to be a level of inconsistency.
Two weeks ago the Irish put the college football world on notice with a 17-point beatdown of Oklahoma. A week later, they struggled to put away the fledgling Pitt Panthers. Bettors who had the Irish covering the spread last week couldn't have been happy as the Irish had to scratch and claw to get a win, let alone covering any spread.
This week they should expect it to be different. They should be re-focused after the near disaster last week and have been an excellent road team in the limited times they've gone on the road. They beat Navy 50-10, Michigan State 20-3 and Oklahoma 30-13. Boston College is much closer to Navy than Oklahoma and Michigan State on the spectrum so they should win rather handily.
Over/Under: 47.5 (via Covers)
You won't see the Notre Dame defense give up a ton of points to Boston College's one-dimensional offense. Quarterback Chase Rettig has shown flashes of brilliance this season but he is far from the best quarterback Notre Dame has seen this season.
On the other hand, you never know what Notre Dame offense will show up. The unit that needed three overtimes to score 29 against Pitt didn't look nearly as impressive as the unit that scored 41 on Miami earlier in the season or even 30 against Oklahoma.
Expect quarterback Everett Golson to be unleashed a little more than usual and some explosive plays from the Irish offense but with little to no output from the Eagles, this should stay under the point total.
Injury Report (via USA Today)
K Nick Tausch, Groin, Questionable
LB Nick Lifka, Foot, Questionable
DT Jaryd Rudolph, Upper Body, Questionable
WR Colin Larmond Jr., Suspension, Questionable
FB Jake Sinkovec, Foot, Questionable
DT Kaleb Ramsey, Leg, Questionable
For Notre Dame, every game from here on out has heavy BCS implications—even if the team suffers a loss along the way. At this point, the Irish can probably afford to lose one game and would still qualify to wind up in one of the BCS bowls. They get an automatic bid if they are ranked in the Top 8.
A loss here though and they would have to find a way to beat Wake Forest and USC to finish out the season to get into the BCS party.
At 2-7 with a 1-5 record in the ACC, the Eagles have absolutely no BCS implications riding in this one.
Keys for Notre Dame Victory
As long as Notre Dame's defense continues to play like it has all season, they'll take care of business.
Manti Te'o is quite simply the best defensive player in the country and one of few defensive players in recent memory with a legitimate Heisman argument. The Irish defense took a step back last week when it gave up 172 yards to Ray Graham, but it should get back on track this week against the Eagles. BC has no player with Graham's explosiveness.
On offense, the Irish should look to give Everett Golson the freedom to make plays. The Irish have gone conservative at times this season but now is a good opportunity to explore what Golson can do when given more leeway within the offense.
As long as Golson and Co. avoid turnovers, this will be nothing more than a tune-up game.
Keys for Boston College Victory
When you're a 19-point underdog, you need to catch a lot of breaks to win.
If the Eagles want to create their own luck, they'll need a massive performance from their defense. They'll need to stack the box and take away the power running game so that they can force Golson to beat them with his arm.
Given Golson's week-to-week maturation, there's a chance he does beat them with his arm, but allowing Notre Dame to gouge them with the run game provides no route to victory.
On offense, they'll need Chase Rettig to air it out early and often. Rettig has been the lone bright spot in the Eagles offense, he has 16 touchdown passes on the season and over 2,500 yards.
Anything can happen in a rivalry game. Last week Notre Dame showed that when they play poorly, even a mediocre team can hang with them. However, that won't be the case in this one.
Notre Dame has won three-straight in this rivalry and has way more motivation to win this one than the Eagles do.
Knowing that style points ultimately matter, this young Irish team will look to really make an impression on voters by notching a great win. Notre Dame quietly put up over 500 yards of total offense against the Panthers last week, it was the turnovers that kept Pitt in the game.
Expect the Irish to clean things up this week and show what they can do.
Predicted Score: Notre Dame 38, Boston College 3
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