With the Eagles entering their Saturday night showdown with rival Notre Dame as a twenty-point underdog, head coach Frank Spaziani faces a difficult task against the fourth-ranked, undefeated Fighting Irish. However, despite the season-long success of the Golden Domers, their triple overtime struggle last week against future ACC member Pittsburgh might be a reason for hope for the Boston College faithful.
With the Eagles’ struggles on both sides of the football well documented (namely, their leaky pass defense and complete inability to run the football), the Fighting Irish have some issues of their own. After Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees failed to put up significant points on the board against a struggling Pittsburgh squad last week, he was yanked in the fourth quarter for back-up Everett Golson – leading the Irish to a 14 point comeback.
Despite his success against Pittsburgh, the sophomore quarterback’s inexperience has been cause for mental miscues throughout the course of the season (see: his interception in the end zone with four minutes left last week). While he certainly has the tools to become an elite quarterback in college football, his inexperience coupled with the pressure of a prime time, nationally televised rivalry game could provide the struggling Eagles defense opportunity to cause some turnovers.
Given his youth, the Notre Dame coaching staff will likely look to establish the run with a committee of running backs that have found success throughout the season. Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood will likely see the majority of the carries with explosive George Atkinson offering the Irish offense a speedier option.
However, the strength of this Notre Dame team lies in its defense. Their front seven - led by middle linebacker Manti Te’o and nose tackle Louis Nix – has disrupted both the opposing offense’s run game and pass game. In the secondary, the Irish’s inexperienced, yet effective core have been able to limit big plays from opposing offenses. Most notably, they held Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones and Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson in check. However, if there is a weakness to be exposed on this Notre Dame defense, it is the secondary.
If the Eagles are able to force a few turnovers from the inexperienced Golson while Rettig and the offense keep their offense off the field for long stretches of the game, Spaziani’s squad could keep it close on the scoreboard. While a BC upset seems unlikely, history tells us that we should expect the unexpected – the Eagles are undefeated against Notre Dame teams ranked in the top five.