It was bound to happen: the Notre Dame Fighting Irish had a letdown performance against Pittsburgh last weekend. Sitting at fourth in the BCS standings, though, Brian Kelly needs to inspire his team to dominate at Boston College to be more prominently featured in the national title picture.
There is a definite chance for volatility atop college football on Saturday, to be sure. No. 1 Alabama has a tough home test against Texas A&M, while Kansas State will be tested on the road at TCU. But Oregon—the team that just vaulted over the Irish—will have a cakewalk at 3-7 Cal.
As equally hapless as the Eagles have been this season, Notre Dame must make sure it takes care of business in Alumni Stadium on Saturday night, to the tune of a shutout, most likely.
Although the Irish have barely hung on to their undefeated record week to week, the team has exceeded all preseason expectations. That's a bit hard to process, considering the tradition of the program and its expected greatness each year.
SportsCenter's official Twitter account had a funny, pop culture-related tidbit about Notre Dame's recent success:
The last time Notre Dame football started 9-0 (1993), Meat Loaf had one of the top songs in the country.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 4, 2012
The Irish have won five of their games by seven points or less, against a schedule of opponents that doesn't stack up very favorably against the select competition ahead of them in the BCS.
With the fourth-worst run defense in the nation giving up 233 yards per game, the Eagles face their toughest, most physical rushing opponent in the Irish at home.
Freshman signal-caller Everett Golson brings exceptional running ability to the table for Notre Dame, not to mention powerful RB Cierre Wood. Theo Riddick and George Atkinson have also played extremely well in the backfield, and that three-headed monster should be too much for BC to overcome.
A great game for Golson against an inferior team will be key, since he's been in and out of the lineup all year in certain situations.
In order to have any sort of chance, the Eagles need a monster game from QB Chase Rettig, who has struggled with accuracy at times in 2012.
Outside of a career outing from him, it's hard to fathom BC playing spoiler in this one. This is about the biggest mismatch the Irish could have hoped for at this point, coming off of its triple-overtime game against the Panthers.
They had better take advantage of it, since there aren't many other opportunities or conference championship games for Notre Dame to make the case that it should play for the national title.