The Eagles will travel to South Bend on November 23rd to face the fighting Irish of Notre Dame, a team that will certainly be out to prove something this season after the Cotton Bowl beat-down suffered at the hands of the National Champs. The Eagles will have a chance to spoil Notre Dame’s hopes of another playoff run but they have quite the mountain to climb in order to do that.
What the Eagles will face:
Notre Dame’s offense really began clicking once QB Ian Book was given the reins and he’s back this season, while former starter Brandon Wimbush is at UCF. Book threw for 2,628 yards, completing 68% of his throws and will have a chance to surpass that number this coming season. The Fighting Irish have lost some key contributors on the offensive side of the ball including Dexter Williams their leading rusher and Miles Boykin their leader receiver. However, Chase Claypool and Chris Finke, the team’s second and third leading receiver, are back this year meaning Book will not be without any familiar targets. In order for ND to have a balanced attack, Tony Jones Jr. will have to pick up the slack running the football but he is not without some game experience rushing for 392 yards on 82 carries in 2018. If Ian Book can continue his success from last season he will bring stability and efficiency to this offense right out of the gate in 2019. They may not put up a lot of point but they won’t necessarily have to, considering the defensive talent they have coming back.
Last season the Fighting Irish’s defense gave up only 18.2 points per game, ranking thirteenth in the country for points allowed. The Fighting Irish may have lost Jerry Tillery and Te’von Coney but they are still bringing back plenty of talent back for their 2019 squad. Julian Okwara is back after leading the Irish in sacks along with the departed Tillery. The team’s leader in INTs, Jalen Elliot is back in the secondary, along with Alohi Gillman whose 94 tackles were second best on the team. This was a stout defense and Eagles’ fans should not expect anything different from their rival this season.
What this all means for BC:
BC will play a very different fighting Irish team than the one that thumped the Eagles’ 49-20 in 2017. They will not have to content with dual-threat QB like Brandon Wimbush or home-run back Jamaal Adams. Notre Dame will likely not run for 515 yards either but that may be because they won’t have to.
BC will likely see a very balanced and efficient offensive attack out of the Fighting Irish. BC’s defense has some important question marks right now and they Eagles’ offense will need as many chances as their defense can give them. Book will not test them as severely with his legs but his efficiency as a thrower will mandate BC defenders in his face as much as possible.
The 2019 Holy War can’t just be an AJ Dillon show. BC will need a total effort on the offensive side of the ball to have a chance in this game. Anthony Brown threw for 215 yards and 2 TDs the last time he played Notre Dame but threw two picks as well. He’ll have to beef up those numbers this time, cut down on those mistakes, and all against a defense that is more talented than the one he faced in 2017. Yet, just as Notre Dame’s defense has gotten better so has Brown.
Much like their 2015 meeting in Fenway Park, if the Eagles’ make this game a low-scoring defensive struggle they can win. Notre Dame’s offense will not blow them out of the stadium like Clemson, for example, but it will be hard for BC to catch up if the Fighting Irish get too far ahead. If BC keeps Ian Book in check and takes advantages of the opportunities when they come this game is more than winnable.