Here come the Irish..
The rivalry between Boston College and Notre Dame is not as year-to-year as it should be. It's hard to proclaim the Fighting Irish as the main rival for the Eagles when they don't play every season. It won't reach the heights as it did in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It won't feel like it did in the days of the old Big East, when lower numbers of conference games and scheduled agreements allowed the two teams to meet annually.
But it's still Notre Dame, and there's something to those golden helmets, the leprechaun mascot, the 11 national championships, seven Heisman Trophy winners. They haven't won a national title since 1988, but that doesn't matter. As long as there is college football played every season, people will always view Notre Dame as history's team.
This is one of those games that, regardless of record, needs no superfluous adjectives. It needs no introduction. It needs simply to be introduced. Notre Dame week is here. The players on the field might not know about the history, but they'll know what it means to the fans when they step foot on the field. This is a special week, and if anyone ever needed help getting for a Boston College football fan, one sentence can do it in a flash.
Here come the Irish.
Weekly Storylines (The Dark Knight Edition)
"You squeezed them, you hammered them to the point of desperation. And in their desperation, they turned to a man they didn't fully understand." -Alfred
This game presents an incredible opportunity for Boston College. The Notre Dame defense ranks 41st overall, giving up over 360 yards per game. In terms of power conference opponents, this is the worst defense the Eagles will play all season long (Northern Illinois being worse overall). For the Eagle offense, this represents a chance to play on the edge and take chances they ordinarily wouldn't.
In particular, this is a game where John Fadule has a chance to really shine. Even in victory, the Notre Dame defense is prone to being gashed. They've given up 100 yards rushing in nearly every game this season. Their passing defense isn't terrible, and it performed well enough against Temple and Pittsburgh (188 yards and 223 yards, respectively), but it's also suffered from a couple of rough games, including a 302 yards-allowed performance against UMass.
For a guy like Fadule, this has to be his Super Bowl. I didn't think the offensive line played that poor in the second half and fourth quarter against NC State, even though the Eagles were playing from far behind at that point. With that in mind, the fact that there's stability and continuity behind them should help. For Fadule, it's a good chance to show he learned from last week's steps backwards against a top 10 defense (NC State ranks ninth) and can progress after looking good in the second half of a blowout loss.
Boston College can play like a team on the edge offensively, a desperate team even. And in that desperation, they can really turn to a guy nobody really knows much about.
"Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I'm an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It's fair!" -The Joker
The narrative for Boston College has been the same week-in and week-out: the defense plays well enough to keep the team in the game, but it eventually wilts against a good offense. The defensive effort is wasted by the struggles of an anemic offense.
This is a game where the reverse could happen. I really believe BC will be able to move the ball at least a little bit against the Fighting Irish, but there are concerns of this defense against the offense. Notre Dame is capable of putting up A LOT of yards in a number of different ways. They've yet to register a game with less than 400 yards offense, and they've gone over 500 more than a couple of times. Against UMass earlier this year, a team that abandoned defense and went into shootout mode, the Fighting Irish scored 62 points and 681 yards.
Notre Dame has a lot of 40-point outputs, including 41 against Navy, 41 against USC, and 42 against Pittsburgh. Even against Clemson, when they scored 22 in a loss, they put up 437 yards. Against Temple, in a 24-20 win, they put up 467 yards. This offense is going to move the ball and they're going to challenge the BC defense. In my right mind, I can't say the defense is going to shut the Irish down like they have other teams.
That's what makes this game intriguing. This is arguably the most complete offense BC will face all year. Can BC impose a brick wall against the Irish, or will ND move the ball at will?
"Will you be wanting the Batpod, sir?" -Alfred
"In the middle of the day, Alfred? Not very subtle." -Bruce Wayne
"The Lamborghini, then...Much more subtle." -Alfred
If there's one thing anyone can't do about this game, it's pass it off as "just another game." This is a Shamrock Series game, a Notre Dame home game in Boston College's backyard. There's going to be plenty of Fighting Irish fans in attendance. Boston College, in their own city, will be playing a road game with their backs to the wall on national television.
For all the public relations issues with the game - the lottery for tickets, the exorbitant price with donation, etc. - all of that tends to fade away when the Eagles take the field on Saturday night. But it's not a regular night. There's special uniforms on both sides, and there's the looming shadow of a rivalry many will recognize. Regardless of record, it's Boston College and Notre Dame. It's Fenway Park, which seems to always find a way to reinvent itself outside of baseball season. No matter where you are, no matter what you do, it's a game worth noticing.
Boston College fans have said that this game, with a win, will make up for what's happened this year with the Eagles. That they've convinced themselves that BC can win this game shows just how important it is. Think of the years BC was a thorn in the Irish side. 1993. 1998. 2002. 2008. 2009. Even if they don't win, BC seems to always be up for the Irish, and this is what we live for. Even if this is a Notre Dame home game, this is our city. For all the people who put on blue and gold (or green), who will show up and root against the Eagles, this is still our turf, and this is something still worth defending.
Here come the Irish.
SPECIAL BONUS QUOTE: Son, in 35 years of religious study, I have only come up with hard incontrovertible facts. There is a God, and I'm not Him. -Father Cavanaugh (Rudy)
Oh come on. You didn't think you were getting through this without a Rudy reference somewhere along the line, did you?
Matchup Fun Facts
School Name: The University of Notre Dame
Nickname: Fighting Irish
Claimed National Championships: 11 (1924, 1929, 1930, 1943, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1966, 1973, 1977, 1988)
Heisman Trophy Winner 34
Postseason Bowl Record: 17-17
Head Coach: Brian Kelly
Years at School: Sixth
Head-to-Head with BC
All-Time Series: Notre Dame leads, 13-9
Streak: ND, 4
Last BC Win: 2008 (17-0 at BC)
Last ND Win: 2012 (21-6 at BC)
First Meeting: 1974 (ND won, 17-3, at Foxboro Stadium)