Boston College returns home to Chestnut Hill for the annual Red Bandana Game. BC took care of business against Syracuse last weekend, and will welcome #2 Notre Dame (7-0, 6-0), fresh off a milestone victory against Clemson. The Eagles haven’t beaten the Irish since 2008, but history may be on our side.
Notre Dame Offense
The Irish offense revolves around the run game. Kyren Williams is the catalyst here and already has 740 yards and 10(!) touchdowns. He embraces contact and has great vision. Notre Dame rode him to the tune of 140 yards and three touchdowns last week against Clemson. Nearly half was on the very first play of the game, but this will still take a village.
Along with Williams, quarterback Ian Book is no slouch. Ahead of young Phillip on the depth chart at Notre Dame, Book might not be the best passer, but his mobility is a big issue for the Eagles. Last season, he ran for 66 yards to go with his 239 yards and three touchdowns. He had another 67 yards on the ground against the Tigers too. He’s going to make plays with his feet, so BC needs to figure out a way to not have another Hendon Hooker situation. Book has a solid deep ball, so we need to avoid big plays as per usual and hope to cause havoc in the middle. The Eagles have had luck with turnovers thus far, and will need some of that again. Last week was a legacy-defining game for Book, as we learned in our Q&A this week. It would be fitting for him to let down this week.
BC likely will have a tough time creating pressure on Book. With a big, veteran offensive line, great blocking tight ends, and a running back that excels picking up the blitz, I have difficulty seeing how the Eagle pass rush can get home. I fully expect Hafley to give the Notre Dame passing offense some trouble, but it won’t be easy. The Eagles may need to rely on stellar coverage and containment run defense, or go all offense in this one..
Defense is Notre Dame’s forte. They have a stout front seven that can create a lot of pressure. Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is a force to be reckoned with. They sold out to stop the run last week (and did), but their pass coverage is not terrible either. BC has picked it up on the ground, but I don’t think that’s how this game will be won. The Irish are 7th in the country in third down defense, so the Eagles will need to avoid these precarious situations.
On the back end, safety Kyle Hamilton is a big threat. He hasn’t notched an interception yet, but he will make plays all around the field. The Eagle defense will still be at its best through the air. Jurkovec will need to be sharp and accurate.
BC remains a +13.5 underdog
BC +410/ ND -510
BC ekes this one out. Jurkovec’s revenge game narrative and Red Bandana Day will energize the team and I think this one keeps us engaged the whole game. This is too exciting, and I’m already amending my last prediction: BC 35 - ND 31
It’s too obvious. This one has shades ‘93. The Eagles take out an Irish team right after their biggest win in years. Jeff Hafley’s hero status is cemented and Phil Jurkovec won’t stop smiling. Notre Dame has a slim hope for the CFP, but a date with Clemson in the conference championship game might put it out of reach. The Eagles play spoiler once again, crushing the hearts of the Irish once again.