The penultimate game of the regular season is upon us, and of course it’s Boston College. When things are going super well, you can always depend on Boston College to show up and give everyone heart burn (but hopefully not heartache). I wonder if anyone else has written about those games which shall not be named. OH MY GAWD MY EYES AND SOUL. Why writers!? Why re-hash those games???? We do this with USC every time good things happen. Why do it with Boston College too? Can’t we just have nice things? Something to call our own, like a playoff berth. For those of you who are The Solid Verbal listeners, you know that Ty Hildenbrandt’s been calling for Notre Dame’s previous opponents to “be cool.” I think the ND fanbase needs to just. be. cool. This BC team is not something to get worked up over. Be cool guys. Let’s get into this game preview without freaking out about the past.
The When/Where/What Time/Etc.: The game is being played at Fenway Park, the home of baseball’s Boston Red Sox, as part of Notre Dame’s annual “Shamrock Series.” Kickoff is at 7:42 p.m. on NBC Sports Network. That is not a typo. NBC has exercised an option they’ve had in their ND contract since 2006 for the first time. The game will air on NBC Sports Network, which carried the Irish’s spring game for the past two seasons as well as a couple of dozen Notre Dame hockey games. Twenty-seven percent of American households with a TV can’t get NBCSN. To find out if your cable or satellite provider carries that network, go here. Dan Hicks will handle the call with Doug Flutie, a BC alumnus, expected to provide color. (Flutie’s parents both died Wednesday, so I’m unsure if this affects his plans.) Kathryn Tappen will handle sideline duties.
The ISP Sports Network will transmit the game via radio, with IMG Sports’ Don Criqui and Allen Pinkett on the call. Here is a list of affiliates that will broadcast the game Saturday.
NBCSN will also re-air its final “Onward Notre Dame” installment of the season at 4:30 p.m. EST today (Friday) as well as immediately after its postgame show on Saturday. The segment focuses on Coach Brian Kelly’s “personal journey home, including a look back at his upbringing.”
The Opposing Coach: Steve Addazio should be a familiar name to Irish fans. Addazio was an assistant coach under Bob Davie from 1999-2001, overseeing – at different times – the offensive line, tight ends and special teams. Addazio is in his third season at Boston College, where he’s amassed a 17-19 record. Addazio has never coached against his former employer.
One final note about Addazio: He’s super fond of the word “dude.” If you haven’t already watched his 2013 Vines, do it now. You will not be disappointed. (Teaser: “Dudes to the left. Dudes to the right. Stuck in the middle with you.”
BC’s last game: The Eagles dropped their seventh game of the season, losing 24-8 to NC State on Nov. 7. John Fadule, making his first start of the season, was 23-for-37 for 257 yards. He threw a TD in the final 90 seconds of the game and converted the subsequent 2-point try. But Fadule was picked three times, fumbled once and was sacked five times.
BC’s 285 yards of total offense was their best showing of the season in ACC play.
The Eagles are now 3-7 on the season and winless in seven tries against ACC opponents.
Team talent: Looking strictly at recruiting rankings, Boston College’s team has almost exactly the same level of talent as Wake Forest. Boston College is ranked #61, having recruited 67 3-star players, while Wake Forest is #71, having brought in 64 3-star players. The Eagles’ seniors have had a rough go of it, going 19-29 since their freshman season (5-22 in the ACC). I’d say they were the doormat of the ACC, but that would be discounting Wake Forest’s senior class, which is 15-31 and 7-23 against ACC opponents.
Boston College’s recruiting has been marginally better since Addazio’s arrival, but questions certainly remain about his ability to recruit offensive talent. The two best offensive players of the Addazio era, Andre Williams and Chase Rettig, were both inherited from the previous regime.
The Eagles will start their freshman walk-on quarterback, John Fadule, for the second consecutive game. Fadule replaced redshirt freshman Troy Flutie, who is the nephew of Doug Flutie.
If you’re looking to find the difference makers, they’re on the defensive side of the ball. Senior linebacker Steven Daniels leads the team in solo and total tackles which includes 6 sacks. Junior linebacker Matt Milano has another 6.5 sacks. In fact, Boston College boasts 4 players who rank in the top 13 in the ACC in sacks this year. Boston College ranks 18th nationally in sack percentage with 8.43% of opponent drop backs resulting in a sack.
Johnson and Milano are complimented by linemen Harold Landry and Mehdi Abdesmad to create disturbances up front. Each of those 4 ranks in the top 7 in the ACC in total tackles for loss. Landry is also tied for second in the ACC having forced 3 fumbles this year.
- The Irish are 16 to 16.5 point favorites, depending on what sports book in Vegas you’re looking at. The over/under is 42.5, which suggest odds makers think this game may shake out around 29-13. The favorite is 2-8 against the spread during these teams’ last 10 meetings, according to OddsShark, although I’m not sure if historical trends really mean anything.
- Here’s the weather report. It will be cool, with light winds and little chance of rain.
- Saturday’s game will be played about 4 miles from Boston College’s campus, making it the closest neutral-site game Notre Dame has played to their opponent’s campus.
- The Irish’s uniform outfitter, Under Armour, has designed special one-time uniforms for this Shamrock Series game. They look like this:
- Under Armour is also the supplier of Boston College’s uniforms. The Eagles have decided to “throw back” to their 1984 uniforms. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the 1984 uniforms and the ones Boston College will sport on Saturday:
- The two teams first met in 1975, and Notre Dame holds the series advantage, 13-9. The Eagles have won 6 of the last 10, but lost each of the last four. Only nine players on the BC roster have ever played against the Irish.
- The Irish are 5-5 in their last 10 games when sporting jerseys that are predominately green. (One of those losses was to Boston College in 2002.) Notre Dame is 25-10-1 (.708) when wearing green jerseys since 1977.
- This is the seventh game in the Shamrock Series. The Irish have won the previous six.
- This series is called the Holy War by some because of each college’s respective ties to the Catholic religion. The two teams play for the Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl which, as it sounds, is an actual bowl.
- The Notre Dame Student Government also created an Ireland Trophy, which will go to the winner of this game. It’s sort of weird that there’s really no good image of this trophy on the Internet, just like one blurry screencap of a television screen.
- RTDB? Maybe not. Nearly 69% of all opponent offensive yards versus BC have come through the air this year. That may be misleading though as Boston College still ranks in the top 25 in passing yards allowed per game (195 yards/gm, 24th nationally). It’s just that the Eagles boast perhaps the nation’s top rushing defense. Boston College is allowing the second fewest yards per game on the ground and leads the nation in yards per carry allowed (just 2.4 ypc). The vulnerability for Boston College comes on yards per pass completion where they rank just 65th nationally. I wonder if Big Bill Fuller could help push that even farther down?
- Make no mistake, Boston College is far and away the worst offense in college football this year. I’d say their 240 yards per game, which is last by 25 yards/game, seems historic, but then you have to go back just one season to find a Wake Forest squad that averaged just 200 yards per game. Other categories BC currently ranks dead last in FBS: yards per play, punts per score, and third down conversion percentage. Their 117.9 passing yards per game is 125th. The teams below them: Navy, Army, and Georgia Southern. The team immediately ahead of them? Air Force. If this were an SAT question, I think you could figure out which team isn’t like the others. The Eagles have also only completed 41% of all pass attempts this year. It’s not just that they attempt to ground and pound, it’s that they’re horribly inefficient when trying to pass.