On Saturday afternoon, the Boston College Eagles travel to a chilly South Bend to face longtime foe Notre Dame in their penultimate game of the regular season. The 2:30pm ET kickoff is setting up to be a chilly 30 degrees with winds blowing as high as 25 mph. After an oddly warm few weeks, winter is rapidly approaching.
Boston College enters the game coming off of their biggest win of the season. They knocked off #16 NC State down in Raleigh last weekend, BC’s first ranked win since 2014. The win came at a very odd time, as just 2 weeks prior the program was reeling from a loss to UConn and the injury of their starting quarterback Phil Jurkovec. Since then, back-up QB Emmett Morehead has filled in nicely to try and salvage what’s left of the season and led the game-winning drive against NCSU that was capped off by a TD throw with just seconds remaining. The Eagles sit at 3-7 on the year.
Notre Dame has had a rollercoaster of a season themselves. The team started ranked #5 nationally and then proceeded to lose its first 2 games against #2 Ohio State and Marshall, respectively. The ship started to steady with wins over UNC and #16 BYU, but took a bad tumble once again in a Week 6 loss to PAC-12 bottomfeeder Stanford. Then, suddenly, the Fighting Irish put it together. A win against #16 Syracuse was followed by a huge upset of #4 Clemson, likely dashing the ACC’s hopes of a CFP appearance. Last week’s contest against Navy was a bit of a struggle, giving up 32 points to the Midshipmen, but they held off a comeback and improved to 7-3. It’s tough to know what to expect out of Notre Dame on a weekly basis, but they’ve been playing well recently.
What to Watch For
- Boston College’s run defense. Notre Dame’s rushing attack is what they will hang their hat on for this game, especially given likely windy weather conditions. Irish QB Drew Pyne was vaulted into the starting slot after their starter Tyler Buchner was injured earlier in the year and, while he has performed admirably, he clearly is a step below ND’s high expectations. Stuffing the run and forcing Pyne to make some plays is the key to success for the Boston College defense. The 200 yard performance against NC State is not something that will work this week.
- Big Play Zay. Notre Dame has the tendency to give up big plays, which has helped teams like Marshall and Stanford to win games they probably shouldn’t have otherwise. Zay Flowers is the absolute key for Boston College to create big, game-changing plays, so it’s a prime match-up for him to make a difference. (You should be watching Zay Flowers anyways, though. He’s special.)
- Can Emmett Morehead limit mistakes? Morehead threw 2 costly INTs against NC State last week just outside of the redzone, which limited BC’s offensive output and could've cost them the win. Notre Dame will likely be a tougher opponent and BC cannot afford such momentum shifts with such a small margin of error. We know that Morehead is capable of clean performances after he threw for 300+ yards and 0 INTs against Duke, so it’s just a matter of repeating that kind of performance.
- Who has the flu? Jeff Hafley let the media know earlier this week that dozens of players are running high temperatures and have the flu. Keep your eyes on BCI as we share more concrete information as it becomes available closer to kickoff.
Hafley: "I will say this, I’m not going to get into too many things on injuries right now, but we had a tough practice today. We have quite a few guys out right now with what we think is the flu. A couple guys have really high fevers."— Trevor Hass (@TrevorHass) November 16, 2022
"Upwards of a dozen guys out."
Tailgate Treat of the Week
It always bugs me that one of Notre Dame’s most popular hype songs is “Shipping up to Boston.” The Dropkick Murphy’s are a very Irish band, sure, but that song in particular refers to a location that is very clearly nowhere near your school. So this week I am inspired to embrace the Boston side of myself and I encourage you on Saturday to go down to your nearest Dunkin’ Donuts and pick your favorite menu item to enjoy before the game. It’s brisk outside these days, so I’ll be grabbing a hot chocolate and some munchkins, but as long as it’s Dunks then go ahead and treat yourself.
Prediction: Notre Dame 31 Boston College 21
This BC team has some life! The defense looked great last week and the offense was actually able to put some drives together. While NC State was perhaps a bit of an overrated squad, they were still formidable and it took some guts to get the W.
It will take that same kind of performance (and more) to defeat Notre Dame. While I think they have it in them to stay competitive, in the end I don’t think they can string together two fantastic games like this. It’s still a fairly young Eagles team and they’ve shown inconsistency from week to week this year already, not to mention that several players could be out due to illness. Notre Dame’s great rushing attack will be a bit too much to handle and the Eags will fall short.
Who’s your pick?
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