Highly regarded as one of the biggest clashes in college football, the ‘Holy War’ between Boston College and Notre Dame has become a staple over the past four decades as this Saturday will mark the 44th year since the rivalry’s inception. Yet, any ND or BC alum knows too well that this rivalry extends beyond the football field. Academic prowess and the need to out perform one another on an educational level has left these two prestigious Catholic colleges butting heads since each school was founded in the 19th Century.
As a BC alum, I have always had a sour taste in my mouth for Notre Dame. Not sure if it is a sense of intrinsic distaste for the school that was bestowed upon me by my parents (both BC alums) at a young age, or if it is a sense of envy and the strong desire to have my school reach a point where they are able to stand on the heads of the Leprechauns in every field. Unfortunately, BC is still finding itself in the classic Sysphius type of scenario; pushing the rock up the hill with every few years us getting closer only to have some type of major setback that causes the rock to roll back down the hill. Currently, Notre Dame has skyrocketed up the US News school rankings with the school now placing as the 15th best national university while BC has dropped down to 37th, seven places lower since my graduation in 2013. On the football field, it has pretty much been the same exact scenario. Notre Dame’s program has continued to develop and excel to become a ‘College Football Playoff’ type of team while BC chugs along as a 7-5 basket case.
Despite enduring some tough losses this year, the feelings that encompass this game put it in a category that is completely separate from a standard ACC game for BC. The historical element between these two teams adds in a factor to this game that makes the outcome a little more difficult to predict. BC is known to shock opponents and become the trap game that teams tend to fear (looking at you USC). With Notre Dame we have shown that we always are in for giving them a scare in the past along with the occasional upset. In 1993, the famous kick from David Gordon lifted #12 Boston College over Notre Dame as time expired to foil the Irish’s hopes of finishing #1 in the country. In 1999, Tim Hasslebeck disrupted the Irish’s bowl hopeful campaign. In 2002, the Eagles went into South Bend against the #4 Irish and forced eight fumbles and two interceptions which helped in them pulling off their biggest upset since the kick in 1993. Even in 2015 at Fenway Park, BC had statistically the worst offense in the country and BC’s defense was still able to keep the Irish on upset alert by forcing five turnovers and keeping them in the game. Unfortunately that year, our offense was just that abysmal that the Eagles ended up dropping the game 19-16, but the heart and drive for an upset was clearly evident. Overall, BC has always kept games close with the Irish. Notre Dame leads the series 14-9 with a scoring margin of 622-464 with a couple blowout wins in ‘92, ‘97, and ‘17 inflating those numbers. Other than those anomalies, the matches between these two schools have proven to be close.
With that being said, this rivalry causes all rankings, statistics and accolades to be thrown off of the table. This is what makes this game so captivating and special every year-or-so that it occurs. These teams are playing for more than just another ‘W’ in the win column. They are playing for their respective school’s pride and glory. I predict that come this Saturday the Eagles will come into South Bend with a chip on their shoulder. It has been eleven years since their last win against the Irish, they are on the brink of bowl eligibility, and they’re seeking to pick up some steam after a tough loss against Florida State in their last outing. Meanwhile, ND will be in a similar position. While their playoff hopes are pretty much non-existent at this point, they’re still in the position for fighting for a respectable bowl game and to try to finish in the top ten. With all this in mind, this game has the recipe to become another classic between the two schools and a rather close scoring contest. So, say your five ‘Hail Mary’s’ Eagles fans and hope that the ‘Man Upstairs’ will be rocking his fresh Maroon and Gold blazer this weekend. I have a strong feeling that He will be.