CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. — Notre Dame fans have long taunted their Jesuit cousins on the East Coast by saying BC stands for “Backup College.”
The Boston College faithful shoot back that BC stands for “Better Catholics.”
It’s Holy War week, and the Irish head to Chestnut Hill, Mass., to face a Boston College squad in dire need of some divine intervention.
The Eagles are 2-7, with wins over Maine, a 3-6 FCS team, and Maryland, which has lost all four of its quarterbacks to injury. Head coach Frank Spaziani is on the chopping block after leading the Eagles to a 21-26 overall record since he arrived in 2009.
But Boston College, like so many others, tends to play its best against Notre Dame. Just ask the ’93 and ’02 Irish squads, whose national championship aspirations were squashed by the Eagles in both years.
It would take an act of God for this year’s Boston College team to upset the No. 4 Irish (9-0), but stranger things have happened. How do they match up?
Boston College has no ground game to speak of, putting up a paltry 74.7 yards per game, 118th in the country. On top of their running back woes, the Eagles will be without starting tailback Andre Williams, who was injured last week against Wake Forest.
Williams will be replaced by defensive back-turned-receiver-turned-running back freshman David Dudeck, who has 24 carries for 25 yards this season.
Matched against Notre Dame’s 11th-ranked rushing defense that has only given up two rushing touchdowns this season, the Eagles likely won’t get far on the ground.
Boston College will turn to its junior quarterback, Chase Rettig, who has been the bright spot on a problem-riddled team. Rettig has completed a middling 56 percent of his passes for 2,561 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He has thrown for more than 300 yards in three games this season.
Rettig has great chemistry with receiver Alex Amidon, who has 1,073 receiving yards and seven touchdowns this season. Rettig targets Amidon 7.4 times per game.
Rettig has struggled with turnovers lately, losing the ball four times in BC’s loss to Wake Forest last week. Rettig has also gotten sacked 22 times this season, which gives the Notre Dame front seven another way to throw the quarterback off his game.
With the departure of linebacker Luke Kuechly, the Eagles defense is lost and leaderless.
The 2012 squad is 116th in rushing defense (giving up 233 yards per game), which should give Notre Dame tailbacks Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick and the speedy George Atkinson an opportunity for a big day.
Senior linebacker Nick Clancy leads the Eagles with 11.8 tackles per game, but has no real support along the front seven.
The secondary fares slightly better, giving up 245 yards per game in the air. However, with an anemic rushing defense giving up 5 yards per carry, many opponents may not need to bother to air the ball out.
The Eagles backfield is led by safety Spenser Rositano, who has three interceptions, a forced fumble, three pass-breakups and 33 tackles this season.
Rosiatno seems confident about tonight’s game, telling The Boston Herald: “We could shock the world and it’s going to be fun. We always play (Notre Dame) well in a rivalry game, so I’m excited to go out and see what we can do.”
Irish quarterback Everett Golson does well on the road and led a 14-point comeback against Pitt last weekend. If things aren’t working through the air with him, Boston College won’t be able to stop him on the ground.
Rettig has the ability to make some big plays against a Notre Dame secondary that can give up big yards, but the quarterback can’t carry the team alone.
The Irish will shrug off the Boston College curse fairly easily, perhaps because they’re on the road instead of at Notre Dame Stadium.
Notre Dame will return home to face Wake Forset and senior week undefeated.
Notre Dame 38, Boston College 10