Beyond the Boxscore: Notre Dame Runs Wild Over Boston College

While the halftime nerves of Notre Dame fans were no doubt on edge in Saturday’s game at Boston College, they were calmed by a rousing second half performance that saw the Irish tally 35 points enroute to a 49-20 pasting of the Eagles. The victory continues Brian Kelly’s spotless mark against BC and at least temporarily files away the bitter memories from the loss to Georgia last week.

The desire to open up the offense will likely be hold for the time being, if Saturday’s production is any indication. Still, Wimbush remains a raw talent when it comes to the passing side of things after having overthrown a few key passes and not giving off an air confidence that coaches, teammates and fans hope to see soon.

Running Wild Once Again

Going back to their playbook against Temple, the Irish focused the bulk of their offense against Boston College on the ground. In contrast, the Eagles chose to balance their attack, a strategy which worked until midway through the third quarter, when Kelly’s squad finally took control.

By the end of the day, Notre Dame had racked up 515 yards in that department, with Josh Adams and Brandon Wimbush doing most of the damage by combining for 436 of those yards. That kind of yardage allowed the duo to combine for more than 11 yards per carry.

The Irish scored all seven of its touchdowns in this fashion, with Wimbush reaching the end zone four times. The longest of those four Wimbush scores came on a dazzling 65-yard romp early in the final period, though another 46-yard dash in the third quarter set up another score that lit the spark to break the game open.

Big Play Central

The collection of big plays in the victory was something that was often sorely lacking during the miserable 2016 campaign for Notre Dame. Even though there are seemingly capable options among the receiving corps to handle that side of the ledger, it was a positive sign to see any such plays, no matter which route they took.

Each of the first six drives had at least one run of 30 yards or more, with Adams and Wimbush splitting that amount right down the middle. Obviously, the caliber of teams won’t all be along the lines of Boston College in the weeks ahead, but it was certainly a step in the right direction.

Opportunity Knocks

One of the reasons that Notre Dame was able to change the momentum of the game is that after having committed a pair of turnovers, they flipped things around by picking off a pair of passes and collecting a fumble after the break. All three of the Boston College miscues were converted into touchdowns.

The two scores off interceptions each came after the Irish had reached the end zone in their previous drive, with the Eagles’ drives prior to the pickoffs lasting just 52 and 10 seconds, respectively. With the fumble, Notre Dame needed just two plays to cross the goal line.

Bending But Not Breaking

Though the Irish defense gave up 399 yards on the afternoon, they only allowed two touchdowns and forced their opponents to work for them in drives that took nine and 14 plays, respectively. The two field goals also averted potential disaster since the first came with Boston College starting their drive near midfield and the other coming off a fumble in Notre Dame territory.

In addition, when crunch time came on third down, the Irish defense was able to respond by limiting the Eagles to just four conversions in 17 attempts. Three of those successful efforts to move the chains came in the latter stages of the game, with the Irish having taken firm control. Also, a fourth down stop gave Notre Dame the ball back at their own 30 while clinging to a one-point lead.

Unexpected Benefits

Even though Boston College defensive end Harold Landry entered the game as the key player to watch on the Eagle defense, the decision to limit his play to almost exclusively third down made life easier for Wimbush. While he did end up with a trio of hurries against the signal caller, Landry also managed to miss tackling him when Wimbush went on his game-breaking 65-yard touchdown scamper.

A more standard benefit unfortunately came just prior to the game, when Boston College linebacker Connor Strachan was ruled out of the game. Just as Landry’s presence up front was vital to the Eagles’ chances of winning, the absence of Strachan in the middle became sorely evident with each run by Adams and Wimbush.

Next Up

Staying on the road, the Irish travel to East Lansing next week to face a Michigan State team that has won its first two games of the season. Coming off a bye, the Spartans will be fresh and looking to continue trying to redeem themselves after they went downhill right after beating Notre Dame.

That loss at South Bend was frustrating for the Irish, which dug itself a deep hole and nearly pulled off a miracle comeback. Avoiding dumb mistakes and fluke plays would likely avert a replay of last year.

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  1. Duranko,
    All I’m saying is this: If you look at MSU’s records since LOU left, you see that innumerable times they came into our game undefeated (typically 2-0 or 3-0). Then they play like a bunch of All-Americans, beat us, and follow that with a miserable collapse, sometimes season long. D’Antonio was hired at least in part to put an end to that – and he has had mixed results attending to that task…but last year they showed their true colors again!
    So yes, tighten up the chinstraps and strap on your jocks too. We can beat this team by shutting down their “O”…but it’s points that win games in the end, and they are better than I thought they would be, and better than BC. Don’t take them lightly.

  2. We gotta get past Our next few opponents with our pathetic boiler plate passing offense. Everyone points to us. The price that is paid for success. Never take any of them for granted. We have to be bold, walk in and walk out with another W.

  3. I fully understand that Adams gets the most carries. But clearly, Dexter Williams needs more touches. Is CJ Sanders injured? Why isn’t he playing more? I like Finke but I’ve seen enough of him getting crushed. We need production on punt returns. Loved seeing Book and other reserves getting some snaps. Lets hope we see more of that! The Irish will need to bring their A game against the Spartans. Lets hope they prepare well and “bring it”!


  4. I have figured out why BK is giving Adams many more carries than Williams.
    Josh will go pro next season and he is raising his stock and Dexter will
    come back next yr and be the star back and win the Heisman. Thats only thing I can come
    up with. ?

  5. Not to get ahead of ourselves vs. MSU, but urgently need pass rushers need apply vs USC. If you watched last nights double ot heart stopper in LA. Someone needs to step up, pronto.

    1. Greg,
      You’re right, we will need a better pass rush…but we are all more worried about not having a passing game after week three. If we don’t get that part of the offense in motion USC will be another Georgia game.
      As for MSU – they are a lot better than I thought they would be. We can’t screw this up. We need to slam the door at East Lansing on what I call the @rivalry twin #2…the evil twin.

      Bruce G. Curme ’77 ’82

      1. Mr. Curme, I demur on Michigan State. They had a disaster last season, after living the lie of 2015 when all breaks fell their way and then they were publicly shamed against Alabama.

        They had off season disarray. They whistled past the graveyard with two weak MAC foes.

        Their decline began the day that Jim Harbaugh first occupied the head coach’s chair in Ann Arbor.

        Sure they have two weeks to prepare, but they are a FAR FAR weaker foe that the other teams we will play this year.

        I also believe the Irish had a physical let down against BC. That’s right, the defense was weary, and the first half was painful. They will be at the top of their game in East Lansing.

        There will be tense moments as MSU will make Wimbush pass to score. But the MSU offense will be in jail against our defense.

        Michigan State is probably the fifth best team in the Big Fourteen East.

        They will not be playing Bowling Green and Western Michigan on the 23rd.

        Buckle your chinstraps

      2. Bruce and Duranko,

        It is always a tough game in East Lansing. I do agree with Duranko that they haven’t played anyone. I also believe that Winbush isn’t as bad as everyone thinks and will need to focus on mechanics of throwing. Accuracy is something a QB needs to develop by utilizing the proper mechanics of throwing. Also, my question is when are we going to see CJ Sanders, can anyone tell me why he isn’t playing?

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