Notre Dame Football Opponent Watch Week Seven: Three New Lessons

Marc HalstedCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2009

Week Seven brought game six for Notre Dame—an admirable effort and moral victory against USC—and three new lessons from the six remaining teams on the Irish schedule. Can 4-2 transform into a 10-win season? Here's a closer look at three future ND opponents.


Numbers Matter

My Raleigh born-and-raised brother-in-law held a “Wolfpack Party” at his house last Saturday. Their plan was to watch their beloved NC State squad roll over the restructured and rebuilding Boston College Eagles.

According to reports out of Raleigh, the party ended early and most left with nothing more than digestion issues and hangover preparations.

The Eagles dismantled a Wolfpack team that had mysteriously beaten Pittsburgh and lost to a ranked South Carolina team by a mere four points. Of course, that same ‘Pack had just succumbed to the ever-prodigious Duke Blue Devils the week before.

The lessons of the 52-20 BC victory comes from the numbers as Notre Dame prepares to welcome the Eagles to South Bend this Saturday.

This isn’t your father’s inter-faith rivalry anymore.

The bad news for Notre Dame begins with the fact that BC rushed for 293 yards, led by Montel Harris and his 27 carry, 264-yard, five-touchdown performance.

Worse yet was the 52-point barrage, sparked by 31 unanswered BC points in the second and third quarters. Coach Spaziani’s crew netted 7.06 yards per play and quarterback David Shinski threw for a clean 187 yards and no interceptions.

The Irish can find solace in the NCSU statistics that included 22 first downs, 315 passing yards, and 204 kick-return yards against BC. The Wolfpack controlled the ball for 29:08 and Russell Wilson successfully piloted a mediocre offense against a more mediocre Eagle defense.

Despite the impressive offensive numbers, the calculations fall in ND’s favor for Saturday’s tilt.

USC was a heartbreaker, but Boston College does not possess the defensive talent or aerial playmaking ability to stay competitive with the Irish. Montel Harris is one of the finest backs in the country, but the run defense of ND should be able to put the same clamps on him that they placed on Joe McNight and Ralph Boldin.

This will not be easy but the Irish hold the clear advantage in on-field talent, passing offense, offensive line experience, and defensive speed.

Let’s just hope that their USC hangover isn’t as bad as my brother-in-laws BC head-banger.

Matchups Matter

I spend way too much of my life obsessing over the Pitt Panthers. I’ve watched all, or part of, four games, can name every offensive skill position starter, and possess a knowledge of Dave Wanstedt’s game-planning is neither healthy nor applicable to my daily life.

Through it all I can say this and this alone: they matchup well. Or, if you’re currently wearing blue and gold, they matchup frighteningly well.

Forget the Pitt defense. We’ll leave that to Coach Weis and Captain Jimmy. It’s the offense that scares the bejesus out of me.

Notre Dame struggles with big, tall receivers who employ above-average speed. Jonathan Baldwin, Oderick Turner, and Dorin Dickerson are all 6'2" or more. They all run good routes, work all areas of the field, and make big plays. They’ve combined for nearly 1000 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Quarterback Bill Stull has evolved into an accurate and turnover-proof passer and he’s positioned the No. 20 ranked Panther attack into one of the post prominent forces in all of college football. His receivers look like they belong in the Big 12 and his running back (Dion Lewis, 918 yards, 9 TDs) looks like he belongs in the NFL.

Pitt is for real. Baldwin’s a first-day NFL talent. Dion Lewis will be a freshman All-American. Bill Stull will be All-ACC first team. Wanstedt’s is in the discussion for Coach of the Year. Dorin Dickerson is legit Rudolphian game-changer.


What Really Matters

B/R offers us all the opportunity to be creative and explore unique storylines that may not be found in the mainstream sports media.

With that said, I don’t care about the stats, the numbers, the record, or the matchups when it comes to the University of Connecticut and their November game with Notre Dame.

What’s far more important right now is the Husky family, the family of Jasper Howard, and the life his yet-unborn child will have without a father.

College Football is a gift to us all. Our weekends are filled with the trials and tribulations of the programs we live and die for. The death of Jasper Howard reminds us, once again, that real life or death is more tragic than the emotional swings of a Saturday afternoon at South Bend, Columbus, Athens, or Storrs.

God Bless Jasper Howard and his family. You’re in our prayers.

God Bless the University of Connecticut football family. You have one more fan.


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