Notre Dame vs. Boston College: The One-Sided Holy War Rivalry?

Fans of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish hold up a sign during play against the Miami Hurricanes at Sun Bowl on December 30 2010 in El Paso Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

I hate Notre Dame easily more than any other team in college sports. There I said it.

Earlier this week, when Brian emailed me and said "Hey will you write a post on history of the BC-Notre Dame rivalry?" I thought "Oh fantastic, this will give me statistical backing for my ND hate." So I took out my laptop, crunched some numbers, bashed my head on the wall a few times and came up with some interesting data.

But before we get to the fun stuff, let's just bask in the gloriousness of this rivalry. Here are two teams, both with strong Irish Catholic traditions, with fan bases who hate each other based on perceived academic superiority (let's be honest here, BC holds the title there, and I don't need stats to prove it). Each year, the two play each other, and for the most part the games become instant classics. Fans from both schools travel in droves when their team is on the road, and for BC students, the RV trip to South Bend has become a highlight of their college careers.

During the last two seasons, it has been Notre Dame on top, but what if we take the rivalry back a little further. What do the records say and who holds the edge? I'm going to look at statistics from both teams from the last ten years and see where they fall. I didn't bother looking before 2000 because the last ten years have had so much change for both Boston College and Notre Dame. Let's put the Michael Floyd DUI's aside and look at the data:

Year Boston College Notre Dame
  W L Pct. W L Pct.
2000 7 5 0.583 9 3 0.750
2001 8 4 0.667 5 6 0.455
2002 9 4 0.692 10 3 0.769
2003 8 5 0.615 5 7 0.417
2004 9 3 0.750 6 6 0.500
2005 9 3 0.750 9 3 0.750
2006 10 3 0.769 10 3 0.769
2007 11 3 0.786 3 9 0.250
2008 9 5 0.643 7 6 0.538
2009 8 5 0.615 6 6 0.500
2010 7 5 0.583 8 5 0.615
Totals 95 45 0.679 78 57 0.578

Based strictly on a wins-loss analysis, BC would have the edge. Strength of schedule has to go to Boston College here. Scheduling USC and Michigan on a regular basis will definitely make your life harder, but how would you explain not regularly beating the service academies? ND aims to build a schedule that just throws the BCS bowls on the Irish's lap. That is all part of ND's "we are part of football's elite" mentality, which as you can see, they haven't been in more than a decade. Notre Dame fans should focus more on being competitive again year in and year out instead of national contenders, but that'll never happen.  BC, on the other hand, have been the model of consistency, with no losing seasons, and bowl eligible every year since the new millennium.

Speaking of bowls, let's take a look (via Lake the Posts):

Boston College Year Notre Dame
Bowl Opponent Result   Result Opponent Bowl
      1995 L 26-31 Florida State Orange
      1996      
      1997 L 9-27 LSU Independence
      1998 L 28-35 Georgia Tech Gator
      1999      
Aloha Arizona State W 31-17 2000 L 9-41 Oregon State Fiesta
Music City Georgia W 20-16 2001      
Motor City Toledo W 51-25 2002 L 6-28 N.C. State Gator
San Francisco Colorado State W 35-21 2003      
Continental Tire North Carolina W 37-24 2004 L 21-38 Oregon State Insight
MPC Computers Boise State W 27-21 2005 L 20-34 Ohio State Fiesta
Meineke Car Care Navy W 25-24 2006 L 14-41 LSU Sugar
Champs Sports Michigan State W 24-21 2007      
Music City Vanderbilt L 14-16 2008 W 49-21 Hawai'i Hawai'i
Emerald USC L 13-24 2009      
Kraft Fight Hunger Nevada L 13-20 2010 W 33-17 Miami Sun

It's not very tough to pick a winner in this debate. BC has a much better record in their bowls 8-3, to Notre Dame's 2-8. And honestly, I don't care if the Irish were in higher ranked bowls -- if you don't win, you don't win (ask UConn how that feels). Getting stomped in BCS bowls doesn't do much for the credibility of your program (again talk to UConn).

BC, on the other hand, has taken care of business with the bowls they have been assigned to. Could some of these teams beaten better teams in better bowls? That's an interesting question, but the bowl BC has been selected to was not dictated by skill, but mostly due to the fact that our fans travel very poorly.

Other notable statistics:

-- In the Holy War since 2000, Boston College has 6 wins to Notre Dame's 3.
-- BC has had eight first round NFL Draft picks since 2000, compared to Notre Dame's 2.
-- Since 2004, BC has had 9 wins against ranked opponents. Notre Dame has 7.
-- While BC has never had an ESPN Top 25 recruiting class, Notre Dame has been on the list every year since the site kept track in 2006.
-- In 2010, Notre Dame spent $29.4 million dollars on its football program while Boston College spent $17.2 million.

As the stats and numbers have shown, BC has dominated over the past 11 seasons in almost all categories. For a team that is always on network television and always in the top #25, Notre Dame hasn't been able to do the things BC has done over the past ten years, whether they are meager accomplishments or not.

But are the winds changing for these two Catholic rivals? Notre Dame looked much improved last year, and Brian Kelly could have the Irish heading in the right direction, while Spaz has the Eagles  mired in the muck of mediocrity.

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