Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. Boston College Eagles (1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS)
College Football Week 3
Date/Time: Saturday, September 16th, 3:30 PM EST
Where: Alumni Stadium
By Mike M., NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BC +13 / ND -13
Over/Under Total: 49.5
Notre Dame ships up east to Boston to take on the BC Eagles in a noontime showdown at Alumni Stadium. This will be the 23rd meeting between the teams in what has become known as the Holy War based upon the fact that they are the only two Catholic schools that play at the FBS level. Notre Dame holds a 13-9 all time advantage in the series and is currently riding a five game winning streak dating back to 2009.
Neither team enters the game particularly happy, with Boston College coming off a 31-10 beatdown at the hands of fellow ACC-Atlantic cellar dweller Wake Forest 31-10, and Notre Dame suffering a 20-19 home loss to Georgia that was disappointing on multiple levels for the Irish, the worst of which may not even have been on the field. Much was made about this being the Bulldogs first trip above the Mason Dixon line in the past 50+ years, but the vast sea of red that appeared in the stands in South Bend was an inexcusable and nauseating site for the Notre Dame fan base as many of their ticket holders selling (out) their seats to Georgia fans who were just as, if not louder than the Irish fans in their own home stadium.
Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly turned into his angry imp self in the postgame press conference when he was reasonably asked about his and the teams reaction to dropping yet another close game after similar events early last season started an avalanche of disappointment they never escaped from. Kelly lashed out at the reporter without ever answering the logical question, which was especially fair considering his team is now 1-10 in their last 11 games decided one possession or less and 2-11 in their last 13 decided by 3 points or less. Perhaps Kelly was a bit sensitive due to the temperature being turned up that much more on the proverbial coaching hot seat he currently finds himself sitting on, but with rumors abound he wont be the only one the field feeling the heat and he will be facing off against a Boston College squad looking to right their own ship and whose head coach Steve Addazio finds himself in a similar scorching type situation as the Notre Dame sideline leader.
While Addazios teams have made bowl games in three of the past four seasons, they havent eclipsed more than seven wins in a season and have paved a fair amount of their path toward success against inferior competition while continuously struggling against quality opponents. The Eagles have gone just 2-15 in their last 17 games in ACC play, and of their ten overall wins from 2015-2016, three were against FCS teams Maine, Howard, and Wagner and another three versus FBS bottom feeders UMass, Buffalo and Connecticut that combined to finish the season with a record of 7-29. Unfortunately for the hometown fans with more than a rooting interest in the Eagles, the team has particularly struggled under Addazio at Alumni Stadium, with the Eagles posting against the spread records of 1-6-1 in their last 8 as a home underdog and 3-9-2 in their last 14 overall in Chestnut Hill.
The Eagles will look to find more cohesion and stability on offense after struggling mightily against the Demon Deacons last week, both with the running game and through the air where they eventually had to make a quarterback change from freshman Anthony Brown to backup junior Darius Wade after Brown threw his third interception of the game. In fairness to the first year QB two of those passes went through the hands of his wide receiver targets, and Anthony is expected to get the start this weekend against the Irish. One good sign is that they have spread the ball out well in both games, with eight different players catching passes in each of their first two matchups and the best of the group the trio of Kobay White, Jeff Smith and Michael Walker..
An area of surprising concern for Boston College is their offensive line, which had gained a strong reputation through the years a building block for future NFL players. That has changed a bit of late, with only one Eagle offensive lineman having been in the taken in the first four rounds of the NFL Draft over the past nine years. They now face increasing difficulty with starter at center Jon Baker out for the remainder of the season after hurting his knee in the fourth quarter of their opening week victory against Northern Illinios. The senior had started 27 consecutive games before the injury and now leaves a hole in a already faltering offensive line that has seen their running game go for just 290 yards on 91 carries so far this season for an average of just 3.1 yards per carry with zero touchdowns scored. They will need to quickly turn things around before Saturdays game against a hungry Irish defense looking to take out their Georgia loss hangover after their own offense couldnt get the job done when it counted in last weeks loss to the Bulldogs.
After running all over Temple on their way to 422 yards rushing and 606 total in their week one 49-16 victory, Notre Dame was unable to get anything going on the ground against Georgia, finishing with just 55 yards rushing on 37 carries and as a team gaining only 266 yards total. They particularly struggled converting on third downs, going just 3 of 17 after having gone 6 for 13 the week before against Temple, which is why placekicker Justin Yoon ended up with his first four field goals on the season instead of the Notre Dame finishing drives with touchdowns.
The offense was far from alone with their untimely play against Georgia, as the team as a whole was unable to take advantage of multiple opportunities thanks to inexperienced play from freshman Bulldog quarterback Jake Fromm and the twelve overall penalties committed by the visitors from Athens for a total of 126 yards. The Irish seemed to have the upper hand early, and with Fromm struggling the game was pointing toward the direction that if Notre Dame could go up by around 14 points they would have a significant upper hand forcing the Bulldogs to have to pass and lean less on the dynamic backfield combo of Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. That never happened, and instead the Irish eyes were not smiling at games end as they dropped yet another close game and again fell to a quality opponent, now having lost ten of their last thirteen games against top 20 teams and two of their last eleven against the Power 5 Conferences.
One area concern for the Irish is that with Boston College looking at a likely down season, this game will again turn into their version of the Super Bowl as the Eagles and specifically their fan base look at this as a rivalry game light years more than Notre Dame does. BC certainly has had a knack of playing ND a lot tougher than expected in recent years, as though the Irish have won the last five games, they have gone just 1-5 against the spread in the last six meetings between the teams. After what happened last year, lambastic leprechaun Brian Kelly can ill afford to see his team fall into a similar season killing tailspin that led to their disastrous 4-8 campaign in 2016. Thankfully his Notre Dame squad is set up well against a BC offense starting a struggling freshman at quarterback and looking for answers in the backfield with a lackluster rushing attack that no longer has the benefit of one its better blockers in front of them with the injury to Jon Baker. The Eagles defense does have one of the better players in the country in lineman Harold Landry, but as a team have found great difficulty in containing quarterbacks that can both run and pass as evident the success dual-threat type quarterbacks John Wolford (Wake) and Ryan Graham (Northern Illinios) have had against them so far, which provides a great opportunity for Irish QB Brandon Wimbush to improve his play from last week and find more opportunities down the field to favorite targets Equanimeous St. Brown and Durham Smythe. With significantly more talent and their teensy tyrant of a coach fighting to save his job, I like Notre Dame a great deal in this game and fully expect them to get a win and cover on the road against Boston College.
Mike M’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Notre Dame -13. - Bet your pick for this game using your credit card at an online bookie where it WILL work for deposits and where you’ll receive a generous 100% signup bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $250! (Example: Deposit $250 and they’ll give you an extra $250 FREE!) Find this great offer at Bovada Sportsbook.