Boston College Eagles (5-2, 4-2 ATS) vs. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-2, 2-4 ATS), Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Saturday, Oct. 24th, 3:30 pm Eastern, NBC
By Z-Man of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Boston College +8/Notre Dame -8
The Boston College Eagles, one of the ACC’s first-place teams, step out of conference this weekend for a trip to Indiana to take on Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish in college football’s Catholic Bowl Saturday afternoon under the watchful eyes of Touchdown Jesus.
Most college football sportsbooks opened this game with the Irish favored by nine or 9 points, with a total of right around 54. But as of Thursday morning the line had been bet down to eight at most places, while the total had been bumped to 55.
Notre Dame is also listed at right around -320 on the various moneylines, with BC getting +260 as the underdogs.
Boston College, with new head Coach Spaziani, returned 14 starters this season from a team that went 9-5 last year. The Eagles opened this season with easy wins over Northeastern and Kent State, then lost at Clemson 25-7. BC then beat Wake Forest in overtime and Florida State by a touchdown, then lost badly at Virginia Tech. Last week, the Eagles crunched North Carolina State 52-20, racking up 293 yards on the ground in the process.
So at 3-2 in conference play, Boston College somewhat unexpectedly sits atop the ACC’s Atlantic Division, a half-game ahead of the Tigers and the Deacons.
Notre Dame, in its fifth year now under Coach Weis, returned 15 starters from a team that went 7-6 last season. The Irish opened this year with a 35-0 blanking of Nevada, then lost a tough one at Michigan 38-34. They then beat Michigan State and Purdue by three points each, and Washington by a touchdown in overtime, before losing last week at home to USC 34-27.
So at 4-2, the Irish probably need to win out to earn a spot in one of the major bowls this season.
On the season Boston College is getting outgained by opponents, on average, by a 329-326 YPG margin, but is outrushing foes 155-117. Notre Dame is outgaining opponents 453-420, and outgrounding them, but just by 137-136.5.
Eagles QB David Shinskie, a 25-year-old freshman and former Pennsylvania high school football star who played minor league baseball for six years, has stepped into the void at QB for BC and done well, although his completion rate of 54% could use help. Shinskie has also thrown for 7.1 YPA, which ain’t bad, and nine TDs vs. four INTs.
Meanwhile, Irish junior QB Jimmy Clausen has been racking up yardage and points. Through six games this season Clausen has hit on 65% of his throws for 9.5 YPA, which is great, with 14 TDs and just two picks.
The Eagles have won six straight games in the series with the Irish. Last year, BC shut out Notre Dame 17-0 at Chestnut Hill, picking off QB Clausen four times.
The totals are 4-2 in both BC and ND games this season. Eagles games have averaged almost 52 total points per, while Irish games have averaged 57 points.
Being the public team that they are, Notre Dame has already won three games this season in which they failed to cover the pointspread as favorites. On the season the Irish are only 2-4 vs. the numbers.
BC, on the other hand, is 4-2 against the spread this season.
The forecast for Thursday through Saturday in the South Bend area calls for rain and temps in the 50s.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com rate Notre Dame at 82.7, Boston College at 77.0. Taking into account Sagarin’s updated college football home-field advantage figure of 3.5, and the Irish are nine-point favorites over the Eagles on the Sagarin line.
Z-Man’s Pick: Look for a close game with Boston College grabbing the money.