Week 11 - Notre Dame at Boston College

Posted Nov 7, 2012

Week 11 Fearless Prediction - Notre Dame at Boston College

Notre Dame (9-0) at Boston College (2-7) Nov. 10, 8:00, ABC

Here's The Deal: Simply winning games is no longer enough. Style points are becoming an integral component of Notre Dame's quest to play for a national championship.

While the Irish are an improbable 9-0, the program has spent this week defending itself after barely escaping middling Pitt in South Bend this week. The nation's No. 4 team needed to rally in the fourth quarter, and got a break when the Panthers missed a chip shot field goal in OT. The result? The unblemished record remained intact, but the gap between No. 2 and No. 4 widened. It's imperative for ND that it not only captures the next two games over Boston College and Wake Forest, but wins without having to break a sweat.

Having already been eliminated from the postseason, this week's visit from the rival Irish will be the equivalent of a bowl game for the Eagles. The two prominent Catholic institutions have met 21 times, with Notre Dame winning 12 times. BC has defeated just once FBS opponent all year, increasing the likelihood that head coach Frank Spaziani will be relieved of his duties shortly after the regular season ends on Nov. 24.

Why Notre Dame Might Win: The Irish defense versus the Eagles offense is a complete mismatch.

Notre Dame has silenced teams with far superior weapons than the one it'll see in Chestnut Hill this weekend. The Irish have yet to allow more than 20 points in regulation all season, and have been as stout against the run as the pass. Obviously, LB Manti Te'o has been the signature defender all year, but this unit has hardly been a one-man show. DE Stephon Tuitt has been a 303-pound beast, with a team-high 10 sacks, while NG Louis Nix III, LB Prince Shembo and S Zeke Motta have been stalwarts all season. The Boston College offense has tanked over the past month, averaging just 14 points in the last four games.

Lateral speed and balance are required to put a dent in the Fighting Irish D. The Eagles and their 118th-ranked ground game are not capable of either.

Why Boston College Might Win: Pitt isn't the only inferior squad Notre Dame has had problems putting away this season.

The Irish's inconsistency on offense has made the team vulnerable to the likes of Purdue, BYU and the Panthers, who all came within a field goal of the upset. With erratic Everett Golson at the controls, Notre Dame is 89th nationally in passing, and 114th in red zone touchdowns. When Kyle Brindza is attempting too many field goals, it leaves the Irish vulnerable to be picked off in a low-scoring game. Boston College will need a big game from its blue-collar defense. The onus will fall upon members of the back seven, namely CB Sean Sylvia and linebackers Nick Clancy and Steele Divitto, to shut down the deep and diverse Irish ground game.

What To Watch Out For: Has Notre Dame missed WR Michael Floyd this season or what?

Golson owns a lot of the blame when the offense sputters, but he sure could use a little more help on the outside. No one is stretching the field on the outside, which makes the team's No. 30 ranking in rushing that much more impressive. The Irish quarterbacks continue to lock in on TE Tyler Eifert, who is predictably drawing a ton of attention from opposing linebackers and defensive backs. Boston College has gotten to the quarterback just six times all season, which means Golson will have the time he needs to spot someone other than No. 80, like TJ Jones, Robby Toma or up-and-comer DaVaris Daniels.

What Will Happen: Pitt spooked Notre Dame a couple of days after Halloween. Boston College won't be nearly as scary this Saturday night.

The Irish and the Eagles will be competitive for the first quarter or so before the former's defensive prowess and deep running game take over. Notre Dame will force Boston College into the kinds of third-and-long situations that result in Rettig turnovers and short fields for the visitor. No, the Irish won't earn the type of blowout that the locals are accustomed to in Eugene and Manhattan. But, unlike a week ago, they also won't need to frenetically rally from behind in the second half.

CFN Prediction: Notre Dame 31 … Boston College 14
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Notre Dame -19 O/U: 47.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Skyfall, 1 – Wreck It Ralph): 3