“The Holy War”. That is the title used to describe the meeting between the only Catholic universities in the United States to compete in the NCAA’s Division I-A level. After a disappointing 1-3 start that is painfully close to 3-1, the Irish look to get back on track this weekend as they attempt to salvage a once promising preseason outlook. Notre Dame travels to Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts where they will be greeted by a less than hospitable Boston College team trying to bounce back from a 19-0 home setback to Virginia Tech last weekend. If history tells us anything, this one will come down to the wire as the Irish look to take two in a row from the Eagles for the first time since winning 4 straight in the series from 1995-1998. However, BC has dominated the head to head matchups as of late, winning 6 straight before falling to the Irish 20-16 last year in South Bend. Notre Dame regained the overall lead in the series (10-9) on a Brian Smith interception with just under two minutes remaining in the 2009 meeting.
It’s been yet another frustrating season for Irish fans as the Golden Domers have already dropped two contests they should have won. From a fan’s mental standpoint, the difference between a 3-1 football team and a 1-3 football team is quite considerable. Nonetheless, the team (and its fans) must look forward to this weekend’s game being the game that turns the ship around. The Irish and their 103rd ranked defense may catch a bit of a break as the Eagles are turning to true freshman quarterback Chase Rettig to call the plays on Saturday. We could be in for a low scoring affair as the Boston College offense ranks 90th in the nation, while their defense ranks 32nd overall. One thing we can be certain of is sophomore linebacker Manti Te’o making a lot of tackles. Te’o had TWENTY ONE tackles last week vs Stanford and now leads the nation with 53 stops through the first four games.
This week’s matchup is a tough one to predict. Notre Dame is favored by 2.5 pts, but at the same time, the Irish have lost three straight games in Alumni Stadium and haven’t won their since 1998. This game is all about respect, always has been, always will be. The BC community has always felt a little disrespected because they are routinely perceived to be the lesser program. Anyone who has followed Notre Dame football for the past decade knows this couldn’t be further from the truth. On the other hand, the Irish are seeking respect from basically everyone. Everyone who thinks this year’s team is just like last year’s team…and the team before that, and the team before that, and…well you get the picture. Losers of 7 of their last 8 games, Notre Dame will be a very desperate football squad on Saturday, a team that must get to 3-3 in order to have any chance at a decent bowl game. I’m having a tough time believing this team is ready to win a road game in a prime time setting. Maybe if Mark Dantonio didn’t have the guts to call the most ridiculous play I have ever seen two weeks ago in East Lansing, I would be a little more confident. In my opinion, Dayne Crist has still not quite turned that corner necessary to be considered an elite quarterback. And until he does, the Irish will have a hard time winning on the road. My prediction, BC 23 ND 20 (maybe picking against the Irish for once will actually work?)
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Written by Tim Lewis