10/24/2009 - Notre Dame 20, Boston College 16 - 5-3 (3-2 ACC)
Brian: The toughest part of losing this past weekend was that this was a very winnable game for BC. Nothing against the Irish, but this year’s Notre Dame isn’t that much improved from last season’s 7-6 record. As I said going into the game, Notre Dame has played bad teams late into the fourth quarter, and that’s a sign of deeper issues. Still, you can’t expect to win when you turn the ball over 5 times. A few less costly mistakes and the Eagles take this game easily.
Let’s start with the play of Dave Shinskie. His three interceptions were all poor decisions but Shinskie also had flashes of brilliance. Shinskie had nine passes of 20 or more yards going into the third quarter, and was able to get the ball to Rich Gunnell for a career day (10 catches, 179 yards, 1 TD). What did you like and what didn’t you like from Dave Shinskie on Saturday?
Jeff: Until almost the end of the 3rd quarter, Shinskie had a spectacular day. He threw the ball well down the field a threw it away a few times when necessary. But, unfortunately, as you might expect when you start throwing the ball downfield, you might be taking some risks that you'll ultimately pay for. For the first 43 minutes of the game there is really nothing bad I have to say about Shinskie's play and he proved that he is our quarterback of the future despite the loss. In a game where we didn't know if the team would show up flat on the road once again, the team certainly did anything but that. Despite not scoring early, they at least were moving the ball and giving the defense a little rest which they had not done in previous road games. Once Montel Harris fumbled on the 2 yard line and the game was put in Shinskie's hands to win for us since we could not run the ball at all Saturday, things changed. Shinskie forced a few balls to Gunnell that led to some of the INTs, and he also wasn't helped by a crucial Gunnell drop, and some busted first down plays like a wildcat formation with Harris and an attempted screen pass to Harris. Once it was Shinskie's game to win or lose for us, he should've been given all three downs to make something happen rather than being set up with 2nd and more than 10. A 3 interception day is bad and I'm not happy with several of Shinskie's throws, but this had more the feeling of a Matt Ryan day with 3 TOs than a Chris Crane day where you kinda just have to take the bad with the good. For a true freshman that didn't play football last year, how can you be too disappointed?
Brian: I don't think you can be too disappointed with Shinskie's play. Although I think having watched true freshmen Tate Forcier and Matt Barkley hold on to defeat the Irish, we may have been a little spoiled into thinking our freshman QB could pull out the victory as well. Who had a better game in your opinion? Shinskie or Clausen?
Jeff: Shinskie had the better game. No question. Our offense was one dimensional and two of the three interceptions came when we were trailing late.
Brian: Let’s move to the defense’s performance. While the Eagles were able to hold the Irish to 20 points of offense, the Eagles played soft coverage on the outside and Jimmy Clausen was able to exploit this weakness. Clausen finished the game 26-of-39 for 246 yards, but most of those passes were short outs to his receivers. Golden Tate’s game-winning touchdown was only a 10 yard out. The Eagles also gave up big chunks of yardage to Irish running back Armando Allen Jr. who came just two yards shy of eclipsing 100 yards rushing on the day. What did you like about the Eagles defensive effort? Where do you want to see improvement?
Jeff: Well the improvement area is obvious because it was the predictable area of weakness going into the season and has so far lived up (or down) to expectations - the front 4. We continue to not get pressure on the quarterback with a 4 man rush ever and running backs can get through the line nearly every time before being tackled by a linebacker. As far as what I liked is that people stepped up and made some plays whether it was a pass breakup, making an open field tackle, or forcing a holding call. There were numerous Notre Dame plays that could've turned out to be big plays or touchdowns that were stopped.
Brian: My absolute favorite play on the day was when Marty Bowman destroyed second string running back Robert Hughes on 4th and goal from the 1. That was definitely a curious play call from Weis, opting to go with the Wildcat with your second string running back ... and having your Heisman candidate quarterback on the sideline. The Eagles goal line stand was definitely one of the highlights on the day. My game ball goes to Bowman for putting a hurting on Hughes and watching him collapse right before the goal line. Who was your player of the game?
Jeff: Well you stole the obvious one. I would probably go with Bowman as well, especially since that was not the only play he made Saturday. My second choice for player of the game is Rich Gunnell. Even after he had had a great day statistically and Notre Dame was paying special attention to him, he converted a 4th and 18 pass from Shinskie. Gunnell is definitely one of the players of the game.
Brian: Speaking of Gunnell, apparently he and Jimmy Clausen got into it after the game. Clausen apparently bumped into Justin Jarvis pre-game and then when Clausen came out to congratulate the Eagles, Rich Gunnell wasn’t having any of this. You like the fire/swagger displayed by Gunnell?
Jeff: No comment. It happened seconds after the end of a tight rivalry game. They may or may not have had choice words for each other.
Brian: The good news for the Eagles is the loss has no impact on this team’s primary goal - winning the ACC Atlantic Division title and making a third straight appearance in the league title game. BC’s hopes of winning the Atlantic Division did take a minor hit, however, as Clemson outlasted Miami (Fla.) 40-37 in overtime. Both the Eagles and Tigers now have three division games remaining, with Clemson holding the head-to-head tiebreakers over the Eagles.
Boston College (3-2)
at NC State
It’s looking like a two horse race down the stretch in the Atlantic. Handicap the ACC Atlantic Division race from here on out.
Jeff: Clemson may very well be a better team than Boston College this year and they certainly looked like it on the field when we traveled to Death Valley earlier this season. However, right now both teams need to win out to go to Tampa and the Eagles have slightly more winnable games. We saw what Virginia is made of Saturday when they finally played a decent opponent. North Carolina is still winless in the ACC. Finally, Maryland just lost to Duke.
Clemson, on the other hand, has to play Florida State and travel to Raleigh. According to the cbssports.com 120, Florida State is the highest ranked team left either Clemson or Boston College plays and Clemson plays them while BC plays North Carolina. We both play Virginia and then I'd certainly rather be BC and traveling to Maryland than Clemson traveling to NC State as their third matchup.