Boston College - Notre Dame Matchup

The 6-0 and #4 ranked Boston College Eagles will face the 1-5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday in South Bend. BC is currently a two touchdown favorite to win and improve to 7-0. This will be the first meeting between the Eagles and Irish since 2004. The Eagles have beaten Notre Dame four times in a row and five times in the last six meetings. The Eagles defeated Bowling Green last week 55-24. Meanwhile, the Irish forced seven UCLA turnovers to grab their first win of the season 20-6. Here are the matchups:

The Quarterbacks
Matt Ryan -- 63% comp, 1,857 yards, 15 TD, 5 INT
Jimmy Clausen -- 61% comp, 558 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT

Top Rushers
Andre Callender -- 537 yards, 5.1 ypc, 6 TD
  L.V. Whitworth -- 214 yards, 4.2 ypc, 0 TD
James Aldridge -- 232 yards, 3.7 ypc, 0 TD
  Armando Allen -- 117 yards, 3.7 ypc, 0 TD

Top Receivers
Brandon Robinson (WR) -- 29 catches, 390 yards, 4 TD
  Kevin Challenger (WR) -- 25 catches, 291 yards, 2 TD
  Rich Gunnell (WR) -- 23 catches, 296 yards, 3 TD
John Carlson (TE) -- 18 catches, 131 yards, 1 TD
  Robby Parris (WR) -- 15 catches, 178 yards, 0 TD
  David Grimes (WR) -- 15 catches, 117 yards, 0 TD

Top Defenders
Jamie Silva (S) -- 49 tackles, 5 INT
  Jolonn Dunbar (LB) -- 47 tackles
  DeJuan Tribble (CB) -- 23 tackles, 3 INT, 7 passes broken up
Maurice Crum (LB) -- 47 tackles, 2 INT
  Trevor Laws (DE) -- 46 tackles, 2 sacks
  Joe Brockington (LB) -- 44 tackles, 4 for loss

The Kickers
Steve Aponavicius -- 7/8 FG, 24/26 PAT
Brandon Walker -- 5/6 FG, 4/5 PAT

The Punters
Johnny Ayers -- 40.9 yards per punt
Geoff Price -- 41.0 yards per punt

The Kick Returners
Jeff Smith -- 39.0 per KO return
DeJuan Tribble -- 7.2 per punt return
Armando Allen -- 20.4 yards per KO ret
Tom Zbikowski -- 9.9 yards per punt return

Final Analysis

This is absolutely, positively not a game that BC should lose or come close to losing. Notre Dame's offense is ranked dead last in D1A college football. They are averaging 1.0 yards per rush attempt (I can almost hear Dean Wormer from Animal House saying "one point zero" which is just a notch above Bluto Blutarsky's "zero point zero.") They have been sacked 32 times in six games. They are ranked 41st in the nation in total defense, but don't let that number fool you. That ranking is respectable only because most Irish opponents have been able to start the "run out the clock" offense late in the first half. ND is ranked 96th in run defense and 108th in pass efficiency defense. Has their schedule been that tough? Not really. None of Notre Dame's previous opponents are currently ranked in the AP Top 25. Notre Dame deserves credit for forcing seven UCLA turnovers but the Bruins were playing with their third string quarterback and still outgained Notre Dame by a margin of more than 2 to 1.

Having said all of that, this game, like every other BC game, worries me. Appalachian State and Stanford have proven that anyone can win on any given Saturday. I'm sure that Notre Dame will be a tougher opponent this week having built some confidence during the UCLA win. On the other hand, I think it was beneficial for BC that Notre Dame won their first game. I am sure the ND victory will significantly reduce the chance of BC looking past the Irish, either to their bye week or Virginia Tech. For BC to win, all they need to do is play a solid game and not commit turnovers that either lead to Notre Dame points or take away BC points. The 2007 Notre Dame team appears to have one thing in common with other Irish teams of recent years. Their defense forces turnovers and converts them to points. That was the key to their victory last week. They also scored on defense against Penn State. If Notre Dame scores on defense or special teams early in the game, it could give them the momentum they need to make this a close game.

Saturday's game will be the first of many (I hope) Heisman auditions for Matt Ryan. This week, it will be an NBC national audience. On October 25th, it will be ESPN. Ryan is coming off a great outing against Bowling Green. Notre Dame will probably present a greater challenge. The Irish are holding opposing quarterbacks to just under a 50% completion rate. Notre Dame opponents are averaging 4.1 yards per carry but this is deceptive because of the many second halves where Irish opponents have been running out the clock with backup players. In the three games prior to the UCLA game, Michigan's Mike Hart (35 carries for 187 yards), MSU's Javon Ringer (26-144) and Purdue's Kory Sheets (27-141) had huge days running the ball. It will shock me if Notre Dame is able to run the ball. BC is fourth in the nation in run defense, Notre Dame is last in rushing offense (once again, 1.0). If Notre Dame moves the ball, it will have to come via the pass where BC has had problems at times. The Eagles can neutralize this with a fierce pass rush. The equation is simple: pass rush + freshman QB = turnovers. Needless to say, I think BC will run away with this one. I'm even tossing in a safety to get to the 33 points.

Prediction: Boston College 33 Notre Dame 10

Notre Dame Links
Official Site
CBS Sportsline
Fox Sports

Fun at Notre Dame's Expense
Fake News Out of ND (2001)
How to be an ND Fan (2000)

Notre Dame by the Numbers

Notre Dame quarterbacks have been sacked 32 times this season

Notre Dame has converted 9 of 14 fourth down conversions (64%)

The Irish are 0-9 in bowl games since 1994

Offense - Run 70 119
Offense - Pass 11 110
Offense - Total 21 119
Defense - Run 3 96
Defense - Pass 110 4
Defense - Tot 39 41

Offensive Lines
Avg Height 6'6" 6'6"
Avg Weight 292 303