A lot of things have happened since the fall of the year 2000. Notre Dame has gone through two head coaches while a third continues to sit on the hot seat many Irish fans have designated for him. The world saw George W. Bush get elected and serve two full terms in the White House, the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.
Heck, the Fighting Irish football team has even beaten USC since the fall of 2000. One thing that hasn't happened since then? Notre Dame has not beat the only other Catholic School in division one college football, Boston College, since November 11, 2000. I was a freshman in high school and saw it with my own eyes that day in South Bend. For those wondering, I have since graduated high school and college and have grown nearly a foot while packing on far too many pounds since then.
Boston College is not nearly as talented of team as Notre Dame is in 2009. This game will be huge in telling how Notre Dame will be in the second half of the season. If they start it with a bang then the BCS is still a strong possibility, if the Irish have major issues or fall against BC, that will be just about all she wrote for Charlie Weis as Notre Dame's head coach.
Many have talked about how poor Boston College has played at times this year, specifically a 48-14 defeat at the hands of Virginia Tech two short weeks ago. As poor as the Eagles have been this is still a team that sits in the drivers seat when it comes to who will represent the ACC Atlantic Division in the Conference Championship Game.
The Eagles bring great balance to South Bend this Saturday, averaging 326 yards of offense a game with 155 coming on the ground and 171 through the air. With the consistent weak showing of the Irish secondary, expect the defensive backs to be tested yet again.
Freshman Dave Shinskie will do the quarterbacking duties for BC, he has passed for 815 yards and 9 touchdowns this season. The freshman has also shown great maturity, throwing only 4 interceptions while playing in all 7 games for Boston College this far.
Shinskie will target Rich Gunnell and Colin Larmond, Jr. who have combined for 39 receptions, 628 yards, and 7 touchdowns. If Notre Dame's secondary fails to show up like has so far this season, it will be yet another game the Irish will have to outscore their opponents instead of bury.
Boston College should also be given respect in the running game as Montel Harris has rushed for 756 yards and 10 touchdowns this year. He could very well be this team's offensive MVP in 2009 but don't expect him to be the go-to-guy on Saturday, BC will try and beat the Irish where Notre Dame is most susceptible.
Boston College has been blown out of the water twice this season, once a 25-7 loss at the hands of Clemson and the other the 48-14 defeat to Virginia Tech. Don't get me wrong, Notre Dame will score their fair share of points this Saturday but this will go down to the wire yet again because of the inept Irish defense.
Yes I expect Jimmy Clausen to have another banner afternoon on Saturday but expect to see more from the running game than we saw a week ago. Grant it USC has perhaps the best run defense in the nation, Boston College has a very average run defense, ranking 39th nationally. The top half yes, but still closer to "average" than "very good".
Linebacker Luke Kuechly leads the Eagles with 69 tackles. The good news for Jimmy Clausen and Notre Dame is that the pass rush for BC has struggled this year, picking up 10 sacks so far in 7 games, no player has more than 2 sacks for Boston College.
I don't feel that Boston College can stop Notre Dame when the Irish have the football. I fully expect Charlie Weis to come out running the football early but he won't be afraid to let Jimmy pad his numbers, either. BC will have major matchup problems with Notre Dame's talented targets and if BC at all commits too much one way they will be burned severely the other.
For whatever reason this game scares the hell out of me. Boston College enjoys ruining things. They ruined 1993, they ruined the magical start to 2002, they were responsible for at least contributing to ruining Tyrone Willingham's career at Notre Dame in 2004, they can add to the pile by ruining Charlie Weis' hopes of getting Notre Dame back to the BCS on Saturday.
They can do that but they won't. Irish in another squeaker...
Nick (5-1): ND 38 BC 34
Mark (5-1): ND 34 BC 27