Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Irish Keys to Beating a Hated Foe this Saturday

Domer Sports Report

After a giveaway of a game a week ago Notre Dame goes on the road this week to take on the hated Boston College squad who has won the previous five contests against the Irish, dating back to 2000 when Notre Dame upended the Eagles while being led by the likes of and Matt Lovecchio and Bob Davie. Yeah, its been too long and the Irish are in need of a win in this series. With the obvious stated, what must Notre Dame do in order to walk out of Chestnut Hill victorious this Saturday night?

The fact of the matter is that the Irish, although very unimpressive in six of their last eight quarters of football, are playing a team they are very likely better than. They were the better team a week ago and squandered a two touchdown lead and are a better team this coming weekend against the 5-3 Boston College Eagles.

BC comes into Saturday losing their previous two, a 45-24 shellacking from North Carolina, before a 27-21 loss a week ago against Clemson. In those games BC has allowed nearly eight yards per pass attempt in both as well as right at three yards a carry. Against better offenses this defense has struggled this season, but after the second half a week ago, it is obvious this Irish offense is far from exceptional.

Chris Crane will be under center for Boston College and to say that he has struggled this year would be a major understatement. Crane has completed 56% of his passes for 5.6 yards/attempt while throwing eight touchdowns to twelve interceptions. Crane is a far cry from Matt Ryan, PS3's NCAA Football '09 cover boy and NFL first round draft pick from last April.

Crane's favorite targets include Brandon Robinson (27 Rec, 444 Yds, 2 TD's) and Rich Gunnell (26 Rec, 236 Yds, 1 TD). Like most teams Notre Dame has faced, the defensive secondary should be too strong of a match for these gentleman. What that means is that the game will once again come down to if Notre Dame can stop the running game or not.

In the three Notre Dame losses, the likes of Ringer, Draughn, and McCoy have run wild. It is of utter importance that Montel Harris (411 yds, 5.6 ypc, 4 td) and Josh Haden (273 yds, 4.3 ypc, 1 td) do not get into a groove and pace the Eagles offense on Saturday night.

The Eagles bring one of the better defenses to the game this Saturday, ranking 10th overall in fewest yards allowed per game and 27th in points per game given up with 19 being allowed per contest. The good news for Notre Dame is that the defense has not been as good as of late for BC as they have allowed 27, 45, and 23 points in their last three contests, respectively. Much of the reason for such a high ranking, statistically, is because of matchups against Kent State, Rhode Island, and UCF who combined for seven points in three games against BC. Outside of those three contests BC gives up an average of 29 points per game, much better looking for Notre Dame.

Defensively, the Eagles are led by BJ Raji who enters with four sacks, Mark Herzlich who ranks seventh in the ACC with 68 tackles and three interceptions, and Paul Anderson who has also picked off three passes.

Notre Dame needs to establish the run this week if they hope to win. They must establish it with themselves and stop Boston College from doing so. It is as simple as that for Notre Dame if they want to become bowl eligible this Saturday night.

One thing is very true and it is that BC sees this game as their Super Bowl to some degree. They dislike Notre Dame more than anything in life and like nothing more than ruining, or further frustrating, Irish seasons. Another thing that is true is that Notre Dame brings in a more talented team to this Saturday's game.

Notre Dame is winless against above .500 teams this year and in need of a win against one sooner than later. Boston College presents a great chance to win on the road and I feel that they will walk away with one, albeit by skin on their teeth.

Prediction Time:

Nick (6-2): Notre Dame 27 Boston College 26
Mark (7-1): Notre Dame 31 Boston College 24

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