Boston College Eagles vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish Pick 11/23/19
Boston College Eagles (5-5 SU, 6-4 ATS) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-2 SU, 6-4 ATS)
Date/Time: Saturday, November 23rd, 2:30 PM
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, IN
Point Spread: BC +19 / ND -19 (Intertops)
Over/Under Total: 62.5
In a matchup of the only two Catholic colleges in the FBS ranks, Notre Dame welcomes Boston College to South Bend for a Saturday afternoon showdown on NBC. The Irish lead the all-time series 15-9 and have won the last six games between the teams, with the most recent being a 49-20 victory at Chestnut Hill in 2017. Surprisingly Notre Dame has struggled at home though of late against the Eagles, going just 2-3 in the last five games in South Bend with the wins coming by an average of only three points per game.
ON THE HOT SEAT
Boston College comes in off a bye week with a 5-5 record, needing a win in one of their last two games to secure bowl eligibility. Under head coach Steve Addazio the Eagles have gone 7-6 in five of his six seasons and will almost certainly not be reaching that achievement this year with road games remaining against Notre Dame this week and in Pittsburgh on November 30th. This could be the second straight season in which they lose their last three games of the year, and how long mediocrity is allowed to be the norm at Chestnut Hill will be decided in the offseason when the school either gets rid off or keeps Addazio.
Leading the way for the Boston College is junior running back A.J. Dillon, who remains one of the best at his position in the country and arguably in school history. Dillon holds all-time Eagles records in yards, touchdowns, and attempts, and on the season so far has gone for 1.451 yards (2nd in NCAA) and thirteen touchdowns on the ground. He has also rushed for over 100 yards in seven of his past eight games, which should lead to an interesting matchup against a Notre Dame rush defense that has allowed just one player to clear the century mark over their past eight matchups. The pressure could further be on Dillon as backup David Bailey, who has five touchdowns over his previous four games, was injured against Florida State, and his availability against Notre Dame remains in question. Who could possibly replace Bailey on the depth chart is tough to tell as he and Dillon are the only running backs on the team to rush for more than one touchdown so far this season.
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BROWN AND OUT
While the BC running game ranks fourth in the country, the passing game is a bit farther down at 97th. It is easy to see why considering starting quarterback Anthony Brown was knocked out for the season in October with a knee injury, though thankfully for the team backup Dennis Grosel has played noticeably better the last couple of games after a sluggish start. In his first three matchups, Grosel threw for a completion percentage of 40% or less but has since completed 71% of his passes with a 5-1 TD/INT ratio over his last two games.
The top targets in the Boston College passing game are wide receivers Kobay White and Zay Flowers along with TEs Hunter Long and Korab Idirizi. White is the team leader in receptions and touchdowns for the second straight year, while Flowers is third on the team in yards and receptions while also being the only other receiver to catch a touchdown pass this season. Hunter Long is tops on the Eagles in yards with 411, and his backup Idirizi has an impressive scoring ratio with four touchdowns on just thirteen catches.
DOWN THE HOME STRETCH
With last week’s win over 23rd ranked Navy, Notre Dame extended their record to 8-2 and now have games left against just Boston College and at Stanford. With wins in both, the Irish would clear their over/under win total of 9.5 for the season, though they will still need help with losses from teams ahead of them in the rankings to get into one of the New Years Six bowl games.
Notre Dame was able to defeat Navy thanks in large part to quarterback Ian Book, who for the third time this season tossed five touchdowns in a game. He was especially accurate throwing the deep ball early on as the Irish built an insurmountable lead against the run-heavy Midshipmen. Book has now thrown or 26 touchdowns compared to six interceptions while rushing on a second on the team-high four touchdowns on the season.
The most beneficial of Ian Book’s big day was wide receiver Chase Claypool, who had four touchdown receptions against Navy and over the last three games has 20 receptions for 332 yards and five scores. Surprisingly tight end Cole Kmet ended last week with zero receptions but still remains one of Book’s most trusted targets, while receiver Chris Finke continued his resurgence as after catching just ten passes for 137 yards in his first five games, Finke has recorded 18 for 202 yards in his last four.
STUCK IN NEUTRAL
While Ian Book found a lot of success last Saturday, the Irish running game continued to struggle. Tony Jones Jr. was able to get into the end zone for the first time since September, but hasn’t been as effective on the ground of late with just 54 yards on 23 carries over his past three games played as he looks to get pack to 100 percent. Jafar Armstrong is still having a lot of difficulties finding traction after coming back from injury, which has paved the way for C’Bo Flemister to take over backup duties for Jones Jr.
THE FINAL DECISION
A near three touchdown line for the game may seem high, but most if not all signs do point to an easy Notre Dame win. The Irish offense should have little issue moving the ball against a Boston College defense that ranks 128th in yards allowed per game, 125th in passing, and 98th in scoring. And, considering ND has now won 28 games in a row when scoring more than 20 points, this only further solidifies the argument to back them. Another major factor is how bad the Eagles have been against quality opponents, having lost fourteen straight games against ranked teams and gone 1-23 in their last 24. Notre Dame has won seventeen consecutive games at home while going 6-2 in their previous eight against the spread in South Bend, and I believe they will add to the win total for both streaks on Saturday and come away with a victory and cover against the Eagles.
Mike’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Notre Dame -19
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