Boston College Eagles (3-7 SU, 4-6 ATS) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-1 SU, 7-2 ATS)
College Football Week 12
Date/Time: Saturday, November 21, 7:30 PM EST
Where: Fenway Park
By Mike M., NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BC +16 / ND -16
Over/Under Total: 42.5
The Holy War resumes this weekend at Fenway Park when Notre Dame hosts Boston College in the 23rd matchup between the only two Catholic universities in the FBS (As the game is part of the Shamrock Series of games for Notre Dame, it counts as a home game). This will be the first football game since 1968 at Fenway, which is rich in history but incredibly poor in comfort, leg room and a quality view of the field.p>
Notre Dame will be wearing green uniforms for the first time since 2002, when they were 8-0 and ranked No.4 in the country but lost 14-7 to Boston College in South Bend thanks in large part to Ryan Grant fumbling the ball 472 times and more so because of backup quarterback Pat Dillingham, who replaced injured started Carlyle Holiday and ended up throwing what many believe to be the worst pass in Irish football history. With Notre Dame driving to tie the game, Dillingham was pressured by two Boston College defenders and proceeded to run nearly fifteen yards backwards before feebly attempting to toss the ball away, which he threw directly into the hands of a BC defender who returned the ball 71 yards for an Eagle touchdown and a fourteen point deficit Notre Dame never overcame. Worst. Pass. Ever.
The Irish are coming off a 28-7 win against Wake Forest, a similar team to Boston College in that they have a great defense but a lackluster offense. It was a tale of two freshman, as quarterback DeShone Kizer and running back Josh Adams both were instrumental in the success of the Irish offense. Kizer sustained his efficient play, completing nearly 70% of his passes and adding two rushing touchdowns while Josh Adams continued to fill in admirably for injured star running back C.J. Prosise, rushing for 141 yards on seventeen carries, including a 98 yard touchdown run in the second quarter that was the longest play from scrimmage in Notre Dame history. While prolific wide receiver Will Fuller was held in check with only three catches for 37 yards, the biggest news of the week for Irish fans was Fullers announcement that he will be returning for his senior season in 2016 and not forgoing it to enter the NFL draft as was expected. Fuller will look to get back on track against an Eagle team that he will be facing for the first time in his career.
The heart of the Boston College squad is their defense, which ranks No.1 overall in the NCAA in yards per game and No.3 in scoring defense, letting up on average just 14.4 points per game. As good as they have been defending the ball, they have been the exact opposite on offense as the Eagles rank dead last (128th) in total offense, 124th in passing offense and 121st in scoring. The injury to starting quarterback Darius Wade early in the season certainly didnt help matters as the QB position has been an issue throughout 2015 with the group as a whole completing only 45% of their passes while throwing just seven touchdowns in ten games. Current starter John Fadule, the only quarterback on the team to complete over half of his passes, has thrown just one touchdown compared to four interceptions and while the positional productivity as a whole has been porous, the wide receivers surely havent help the offensive output either. The leader in receptions has just 14 (David Dudock), while Thadius Smith meagerly leads the team in receiving yards with 216 and touchdowns with only 2. The kicking game deserves some attention also, as the longest field goal they have pulled off so far this season is just 31 yards and BC punter Alex Howell has the second most amount of punts of any kicker in the country, which is definitely not a good indication that your offense is executing at a strong rate.
BC enters the Notre Dame game with a record of 3-7, and with two of those wins coming against Maine and Howard it means that their interstate counterpart UMass has more wins (2) against FBS opponents than the Eagles do. The team has an ACC conference record of 0-7 this season and has gone just 9-22 in conference since 2012 and with only two games remaining on the schedule has no chance of gaining bowl eligibility and will be shut out of postseason play for the third time in the past five seasons. What all this translates is that this weekends game against the Irish is essentially BCs Super Bowl for the year, and a win against Notre Dame would go a long way in making up for what has been a very disappointing season for the Chestnut Hill faithful. The fact the game is at Fenway Park means that the BC faithful might actually stay for the full game, as their non-student fan base has gained a reputation through the years for being the get there in the second quarter, leave in the third type fans which along with their usual average record is a major reason as to why they rarely get invited to a decent bowl game as they have accurately earned the status of a team that doesnt travel well. Whether its a true home game for BC or not, it definitely will further that rep if on Saturday Notre Dame has more rooting representation playing in the Eagles home state.
While this game will be the biggest of the season for Boston College it will be vitally more important for Notre Dame for a different reason, as the Irish are still in a strong position for earning a spot in the BCS Playoffs, needing to win this weekend at Fenway and get past a strong Stanford team next week to keep the pace against undefeated Iowa and a suddenly strong contender coming out of the Big-12 between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. Emotions aside, Notre Dame is the much better team with a lot more to play for and is going against a BC team that lacks the offensive firepower needed to keep pace with them. Despite the green uniforms, the Irish get the win and cover at home in Boston.
Mikes Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Notre Dame -16
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