Brian: Jeff is already on his way to Austin this weekend to participate in the Livestrong Challenge (good luck Jeff!) so you are left with me and my thoughts on tomorrow's Boston College-Notre Dame game. Let's take a look at the matchups on both sides of the ball ...
Boston College Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense. While we all know about BC's offensive woes on the road at Clemson and at Virginia Tech, the Eagles' offense is much further along now than they were in week 3 or even as recently as week 6. Last week you could see Dave Shinskie and the Eagles offense rebound from the poor performance in Blacksburg and expose a lifeless NC State defense, particularly in the run game. Luckily for the Eagles tomorrow, Notre Dame's defense - while not as punchless as Tom O'Brien's unit - is still not very good. The Irish rank 63rd in the country in rush defense, 96th in pass efficiency defense and 104th in total offense. Sobering numbers. I think there is something to be said for the Irish playing deep into the fourth quarter in each of their first 6 games - the defense hasn't been able to stop much of anything.
In the running game, with Josh Haden unavailable, the Irish will likely focus on Montel Harris this week and on containing him. Hopefully Rolandan Finch can fill in for the injured Haden. The onus will certainly be on Dave Shinskie and the offensive line to give Shinskie time to work. The Eagles may be facing a bit of an uphill battle on the offensive line without the services of starting left tackle Nate Richman, who was seen with a walking cast on his left foot. Jon Tenuta runs a blitz-happy 3-4 package that the offensive line will have to pick up quickly if the Eagles have any chance of moving the ball. The offensive line has played fairly poorly in both of our road games, but something tells me they will have it together more this weekend. The Eagles have a tendency to get up for this game. If the Eagles can get the ball in space past the blitzing Irish front 7, they should have success moving the ball.
In the receiving game, BC can't afford as many dropped passes as they had last week, especially with the weather forecast for tomorrow. (Seriously, what is up with the rain following me to BC games this year? Clemson, Florida State, Notre Dame?!). Jordon McMichael is back in the lineup which is a good thing.
Boston College Defense vs. Notre Dame Offense. While I have a hard time trying to hold back vomit when I hear about Jimmy Clausen and his Heisman campaign, Clausen is a very good quarterback. Notre Dame is very much a pass first, run second offense, and Clausen has plenty of weapons in the receiving corps to burn the Eagles through the air. The Irish will be glad to have the services of Robby Parris, who injured his right knee, hip and ankle on Notre Dame's fake field goal attempt in the fourth quarter against USC. Thankfully, Michael Floyd - who is by far the Irish's best offensive weapon - will still be out this weekend. The go-to receiver will be Golden Tate and Kyle Rudolph is also a threat at the tight end spot. While Clausen won't burn you with his legs like Tyrod Taylor or Russell Wilson, he can definitely find his spots as a more pure-pocket passer a la Riley Skinner or Christian Ponder.
While you will undoubtedly hear all about Boston College's struggles on the road this season, I think you will see the Eagles put in a much better performance on the road in South Bend this weekend. The game with Notre Dame always seems to bring the best out of BC. Also, having been to both Notre Dame Stadium, Lane Stadium and Death Valley, Notre Dame Stadium is certainly the least hostile of those three environments. With the weather forecast calling for plenty of rain and a high in the mid-40s, I expect a low-scoring, methodical (read: ugly) affair, with neither team pulling away until late in the fourth quarter.
Jeff: In HD's article on BC-ND today, Jim Ramella - a huge fan of the movie Rudy - is quoted as saying, "I mean, who didn’t want to go to Notre Dame as a kid?" Ramella said. "There’s no movie about Boston College." Your thoughts?
Brian: Give it some time, Ramella. I'm sure a movie could be written about The Miracle in Miami or Herzlich's story in the next few years. Besides, Rudy is overrated as a movie. That's right. I just went there.
Brian: The city of Charlotte - led by former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl - is selling Swofford and league officials on the idea of keeping the ACC Championship Game permanently in Charlotte. Your thoughts?
Jeff: It's probably the right thing to do but why not wait to commit to Charlotte until after next year's game at least. The problem is that if next year Clemson ends up playing Virginia Tech in Charlotte, of course it would sell out. We really need to see how Charlotte would do if BC played Miami or a matchup similar to that.
Jeff: HD has now jumped on the Eagles bandwagon and has BC playing in the ACC Championship Game. Some sort of reverse jinx going on here?
Brian: I don’t know. It seems like she changes her mind every week, and she’s had too many back-handed compliments about BC for me to take her seriously.
Brian: The Wake Forest blog Blogger So Dear came out with his 2009-2010 basketball preview and has the Eagles finishing 10 of 12 in the ACC regular season standings and staying home come tournament time. Really? Your thoughts?
Jeff: What happened to the Eagles finishing 3rd or 4th in the conference and perhaps being ranked nationally?
Jeff: Blue and Gold Illustrated writes that the Irish’s six game losing streak to BC is a streak on par with Notre Dame losing four straight to Northwestern (1959-62) and four straight to Air Force (1982-1985). Your thoughts?
Brian: Losing to Northwestern and Air Force four straight years is way worse than losing six (or potentially seven) to the Eagles. C'mon now.
Brian: DeLeon Gause will honor the memory of Connecticut cornerback Jasper Howard, who was stabbed to death on Saturday night. This weekend Gause will wear Howard’s No. 6 instead of his normal No. 9. Gause and Howard competed against one another in high school in Miami. Straight class, no?
Jeff: You're heading to the game tomorrow. Are you gonna try to hang out with all the students in the RV lot? Or are you going to realize you are too old and they don't want you there and do your own tailgate?
Brian: I'm only a week older than you are dude. Are you suggesting you can't hang and tailgate with students anymore?
Brian: Last one, you’ve already sold your prediction rights to Rakes of Mallow, so no more predictions this week. In Bob Ryan’s article this week talking about the BC-Notre Dame series, he suggests that if BC loses this week, Notre Dame would be more likely to reschedule the Eagles. Agree?
Jeff: I want to say no because I would hope that they are not that shortsighted that one game result will make a difference in rescheduling the Eagles. Had they won the last six I think they would have already signed a deal.
Brian: Last week I knocked the cover off the ball going a perfect 5-0, while Jeff struggled and turned in a 1-4 performance. Up 9 games with half a season to go, pressure is on to keep my 9 game lead on Jeff.
- Boston College (+8) at Notre Dame
- Georgia Tech (-5.5) at Virginia
- Wake Forest (+2.5) at Navy
- Central Michigan (-8) at Bowling Green
- Iowa (0) at Michigan State
- Arkansas (+6.5) at Mississippi
- Clemson at Miami (-4.5)
- Penn State (-4.5) at Michigan
- Louisville at Cincinnati (-18)
- Oregon State (+21) at USC