Notre Dame Football: 10 Things to Know About Boston College
Notre Dame returns home on Saturday for the season's final game at Notre Dame Stadium when Boston College travels to South Bend. The Irish have won three straight, and seven of eight since their 0-2 start. The Eagles are mired in their first losing season since 1998, entering Saturday's game at 3-7.
The teams have met 17 times since 1992, with Boston College holding a 9-8 advantage. After winning six straight in the series between the only two Catholic schools in the FBS from 2001-2008, the Eagles have dropped the past two meetings.
As the Irish prepare for Boston College, here are 10 things to know about Frank Spaziani's Eagles.
Boston College has always won with a defense-first mentality, but the lack of offense has caught up with them this season. The Eagles rank eighth in the ACC in rushing offense, 11th in passing offense and last in scoring offense.
The Eagles suffered an unfortunate loss when offensive coordinator Kevin Rogers resigned prior to the season for health reasons, and the team has scored only 22 touchdowns in 10 games. In nine games against FBS opponents, they've topped 20 points only once.
The Eagles have suffered some unfortunate breaks this season, as two key parts to their offense have missed almost the entire season. Running back Montel Harris played in only two games due to a knee injury, and wide receiver Ifeanyi Momah was lost for the season in the opener.
Harris broke the school's all-time rushing record in his brief appearance this season, but will take a medical redshirt before returning in 2012. Momah was expected to provide the Eagles with a big target at 6'6", but a torn ACL cost the senior his season. He will need an NCAA waiver to return in 2012, as he redshirted during the 2009 season.
As a true freshman, Chase Rettig made his first career start last October against Notre Dame, a 31-13 Irish win in Chestnut Hill. He missed the next game with an injury, but the starting gig has been Rettig's ever since.
His sophomore season has been less than impressive, with as many touchdowns as interceptions, and only a 53 percent completion percentage. He threw for 375 yards in the opener against Northwestern, but is averaging less than 150 yards per game over the entire season.
One of the few bright spots for the Eagles this season has been their lack of penalties. As coordinator and head coach, Frank Spaziani has always preached discipline, and his team has done a good job avoiding going backwards with mistakes.
Boston College has both the fewest penalties (40) and fewest penalty yards (336) in the ACC. Notre Dame has almost double the amount of penalty yards as the Eagles, with 596 through 10 games.
Turnovers have not been a strong point for the Eagles, having given the ball away 19 times this season compared to only 11 takeaways. That's tied for last in the ACC with Duke, which has an identical 3-7 record.
Notre Dame played a turnover-free game last Saturday night against Maryland, but their -11 ratio is even worse than the Eagles. Expect some mistakes on Saturday afternoon.
While Boston College's overall talent is down, their middle linebacker is the best in the country at his position. Kuechly, an All-American in 2010, will likely duplicate that performance in 2011.
His 168 tackles are 30 more than anyone else in the country. While partially due to a very young defensive front, Kuechly has been the only consistent performer on an otherwise very inconsistent team.
No Pass Rush
While Notre Dame's streak of not allowing a sack came to an end against Maryland, they have a great opportunity to begin a new streak on Saturday. Boston College has only nine sacks this season, an average of less than one per game.
While Kuechly might be the best linebacker in the country, his strength is stopping the run, not pressuring the passer. Tommy Rees has done a good job at getting rid of the football on time, but may have an extra second or two to work with against the Eagles.
4th Quarter Failures
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Boston College has started strong this season, outscoring opponents 47-43 in the first quarter. The Eagles tend to fade as the game progresses, however, a major factor as to why they'll be home for the holidays for the first time in 13 years.
The defense has given up more than a third of its points this season in the fourth quarter, while the offense has only manged 38 points in the final 15 minutes. When you put those two together, you get a 3-7 record.
As a result of three games with ACC teams this year, the Irish and Eagles have two common opponents: Wake Forest and Maryland. Notre Dame won both games, while Boston College split its two games, defeating the Terrapins but falling to the Demon Deacons.
Both teams played competitive games with Wake Forest, with the Eagles falling 27-19 and the Irish winning 24-17. Notre Dame dominated Maryland, 45-21, and Boston College defeated the Terps, 28-17, with both scores closer than the games actually were.
While Frank Spaziani is only 18-18 in his three seasons at Boston College, much of his success has come once the weather turns cooler. Of 10 November games, Spaziani has won eight of them.
His first team in 2009 went 3-1, and last year's team rallied from a 2-5 start to sweep their final five games and get to a bowl game. The Eagles are 1-1 so far this season in November, with a loss to Florida State and a win over N.C. State.