Ask members of the student body at Boston College, and most will respond that of the opponents on the Eagles schedule, they were most anticipating this week’s matchup against Notre Dame. As the two teams prepare to meet on Saturday, it is both history and uncertainty that make this one of the more intriguing games of the season.
Highlighted by moments such as Dave Gordon’s last second field goal to defeat the #1 ranked Fighting Irish, Boston College and Notre Dame’s rivalry ranks among the best in college football Dubbed the “Holy War” in recognition of the fact that these two schools are the only Catholic universities that compete in Division 1-A. With 19 meetings between the two teams, Notre Dame leads the series 10-9, with Boston College having won 6 of the last 7 meetings.
While these two teams share a rich history, the squads that will meet on Saturday are far from the teams of even the recent past.
For the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, this season marks the first for Head Coach Brian Kelly, the former head coach at the University of Cincinnati. After an extremely successful run with the Bearcats, which culminated in two BCS bowl bids, Kelly has the Fighting Irish off to a slow start, accumulating a 1-3 record. Despite the record though, Kelly has Fighting Irish fans optimistic as the team has displayed a potent offense. In spite of the loss of Jimmy Clausen, Notre Dame currently has the 7th ranked passing offense, led by junior quarterback Dayne Crist, who has thrown for more yards than any Notre Dame quarterback in the first four games, junior receiver Michael Floyd, and junior tight end Kyle Rudolph. Unfortunately for the Fighting Irish, they have not found the same success on the defensive side of the ball, ranking 85th for points allowed with 27.8. It is important to note, though, that each of the three opponents that Notre Dame has lost to, each is currently ranked (Michigan, Michigan State, and Stanford).
At this junction in the season, the Eagles are the antithesis of the Fighting Irish. As opposed to a “green” coach in Brian Kelly, Eagles Head Coach Frank Spaziani has been at the Heights for twelve years, this being his second as the head coach. Whereas Notre Dame possesses a potent passing offense, with a quarterback that has thrown for more yards through four games than any other Notre Dame quarterback in that time span, the Eagles will reveal a true freshman quarterback who has accumulated 0 yards in his entire college career. While the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rely on the ability to score more points than their opponent, Boston College prides itself on its ability to stop its opponent.
But while the two teams are nearly mirror images of each other, both face the reality of uncertainty. The Fighting Irish are still, undoubtedly, in the process of learning and adjusting to the system that Brian Kelly has instilled in South Bend, and are still forced to rely on a defense that has yet proven it can stop an offense successfully.
On the other side are the Eagles, who will be forced to enter the game with the greatest uncertainty in college football: an untested, true freshman, quarterback.
The Greatest Uncertainty
When discussing a new, untested quarterback such as Chase Rettig, there are two questions that need to be addressed; what should fans expect from him, and what is expected of him?
The Eagles game plan in every game is simple enough – hold the opponent under 17 points, and score just enough to win. In other words, this is an Eagles team that will rely heavily on its defense to hold them in the game, while simultaneously hoping that Montel Harris is able to consistently gain yards on the ground. What does this leave the quarterback with? Do not turn over the ball. Of course, any quarterback will have to complete throws when needed to (3rd and long, two-minute drills, etc), but most importantly, it held true for whoever played quarterback this season for the Eagles that the primary objective was to not turn the ball over. Dave Shinskie, unfortunately, was unable to cut down on his mistakes last season, forcing Spaziani to burn Rettig’s redshirt, and start him for this week’s game.
At this point in his career, Rettig may not be a better quarterback than sophomore Mike Marscovetra. Rather, in appointing him as the starter, Spaziani is conceding to the fact that of the three quarterbacks, Rettig has the most potential, understanding that experience is the best way to develop potential. In starting Rettig against Notre Dame, and presumably for the rest of the season, Spaziani is preparing him to be the quarterback of the future.
Being Rettig’s first ever-collegiate game, it is unfair for Eagles fans to expect a lot from the true freshman. During the course of the game, Rettig will undoubtedly make mistakes, and there may even be moments when fans are hoping that Spaziani put in Marscovetra. What fans must do on Saturday is look for potential, and hope for production. The quarterback we see on Saturday, barring an unpredictable turn of events, will be the Eagles starting quarterback for the foreseeable future.
National TV. Night game. Loud stadium. Anticipation. Rivalry. Emotions running high.
In games like this, no matter the uncertainty involved, it is incredibly difficult to predict the outcome. For both teams, this game is too important to let the other dominate. This game will be close.
It is true, and an understatement, that the Eagles may not have the most prolific of offenses, but it is also true that Notre Dame does not have a prolific defense. The Eagles may not put up mind-boggling numbers, but they will be able to move the ball successfully down the field. Hopefully the Eagles can improve upon last week’s red zone efficiency, and score some points. If the Eagles are able to put points on the board, then the Eagles can rely on the strength of the team; the defense.
Boston College’s defense will be the toughest defense that Notre Dame has faced all year. Notre Dame, like the Eagles, will be able to score points, but when it comes down to it, I do not see them being able to move the ball at will like they have in their first four games. The game will be close, and my best guess is that the game will be decided by a late scoring drive, either a touchdown, or a field goal.
Boston College 20 – Notre Dame 17
About the Author
Written by Ian Boynton
Student at Boston College. Avid fan of St. Louis Rams, Boston Red Sox, as well as all Boston College Sports.