Coach Spaziani has been mum on the subject of Saturday's starting quarterback, despite Wednesday's Boston Globe article claiming freshman Chase Rettig would get the start. Has a decision not been reached yet? Or is Spaziani pulling a play from fellow New England head coach Bill Belichick by playing head games with his competition? I tend to think Spaziani is keeping this one close to the chest, as both potential quarterbacks bring different skill sets to the table.
The Vegas line currently places the Eagles as three point underdogs at home, despite Notre Dame's 1-3 record. The reasoning is simple. Regardless of who lines up behind center for the Eagles, it will mark their first career start. Factor in Notre Dame's tough schedule (Purdue, Michigan, Michigan State and Stanford), and BC's listless offensive performance last week? There is plenty of reason to pick the Fighting Irish. Unfortunately for them, the Vegas odds-makers forgot one fundamental fact. This is a rivalry game -- and a lopsided one at that.
Every season when the schedule comes out, Superfans nationwide circle the Notre Dame game. All that tradition. The bandwagon fanfare. The NBC television deal. Eagles’ fans resent being known as the Notre Dame of the northeast. Why can't the Fighting Irish be known as the BC of the Midwest? I have a thought. Perhaps it's this level of one-sided resentment that has fueled the Eagles over the past decade. Boston College has won six of their past seven meetings against the Irish, and a win on Saturday would even the series record at 10-10.
Coming off a humiliating defeat where we looked like the JV to Virginia Tech's varsity, Boston College needs a win. Our momentum has been derailed, and an emotional victiory over longtime foe Notre Dame would help get this train back on track. For Notre Dame, this game holds equal significance. After firing Charlie Weiss and bringing in Brian Kelly from Cincinnati, expectations were high for the navy and blue. A 1-3 start has the Irish worrying about a bowl bid, and another loss could prove to be an insurmountable hurdle. So what should we expect come game time? Let's just say everybody is in for some fireworks.
Under new coach Brian Kelly, the Notre Dame offense has been revitalized. The Irish are averaging 315 yards through the air, 111 on the ground but only 23 points per game. On the flip side, the Notre Dame defense is allowing an average of 244 yards passing and 190 yards rushing. You have to think Montel Harris is somewhere salivating right now.
A run stuffing Eagles defense and questionable secondary against a team that can be deadly through the air. A porous Notre Dame rush defense against an inexperienced Eagles quarterback and all-conference running back. This game we'll see two entirely different offensive approaches. I wouldn't be shocked to see the Eagles split 35+ carries between Montel Harris and Sterlin Phifer. On the flip side, it wouldn't be too surprising to see Notre Dame QB Dayne Crist attempt 40 passes (after all he averaged 37.5 attempts per game).
To all those Eagles fans out there, if you aren't familiar with Michael Floyd yet...well, let's just say you will be. The 6'3 230 pound receiver is amongst the best players in the country, and will undoubtedly be playing on Sunday's come next year. After putting up 44 catches for 795 and 9 touchdowns as a sophomore, Floyd has upped his production as a senior. He has 339 receiving yards through four games, and torched Stanford last week for 8 catches and 110 yards. Floyd is everything you want in a receiver'. He's big and strong with unbelievable hands and deceptive speed. Now playing in a spread offense, Floyd has the potential to post astronomical numbers on any given week. If the Eagles fail to provide safety coverage over the top, his breakthrough could come Saturday night.
As far as the Notre Dame rushing game goes, there is little to be worried about. The Eagles’ defense is susceptible to giving up big rushes off the edge to smaller, quicker backs. Up the middle? Solid as a rock. Luckily for the Eagles, Armando Allen is far from a big play running back. Despite racking up 1,932 career rushing yards, ND's starting back has never broken a run of over 29 yards. With that type of grind it out approach; Notre Dame would be lucky to crack the seventy yard mark rushing. And if the Fighting Irish start giving up on the run, look out. Mark Herzlich is looking better every week, and his ability to rush the passer on the edge could create problems for the Notre Dame offense.
Obviously BC’s biggest fear is getting behind early. With a "green behind ears" quarterback, the Eagles want to allow their new signal caller to be more of a game manager than anything else. If Boston College falls behind by two touchdowns, Spaziani may be forced to dial up more passing plays. This is an Irish defense that held Heisman hopeful Andrew Luck to 19 of 32 passing for 238 yards a touchdown and more importantly two interceptions. If Brian Kelly's secondary is capable of shutting down a future first day draft pick, what could they do against a spring chicken like Rettig or M&M? With any luck (and some help from MH2), we won't have to find out.
Last week, like my beloved Eagles, I embarrassed myself. I predicted BC would put up 24 points against a staunch Hokies defense, and the Eagles would prevail. One 19-0 loss later, consider me humbled. That said, I'm picking against Vegas yet again. While a 24-21 Notre Dame Victory (over/under set at 45) is predicted, I'll take the Eagles in a close one, 27-24. Am I biased? Maybe. But the crowd will be rocking. The atmosphere will be electric. And if Montel Harris can rip NC State for 250 rushing yards, imagine the possibilities against this Irish D.