Notre Dame Football Primer: Boston College Awaits 25th Holy War

The Fighting Irish are coming off their best game of the 2019 season. November has given way to a resurgent Fighting Irish Offense, led by quarterback Ian Book. Notre Dame’s long-time rival, the Boston College Eagles, is one of two remaining teams between the Irish and a potential New Year’s Six Bowl Game. Can the Irish continue their momentum in this 25th edition of the Holy War? We’ll find out on Saturday.

Essential Game Info:

  • Game Time: November 23rd at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC / NBCSN (simultaneously being broadcast with Notre Dame announcers)
  • Location: Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Indiana
  • Matchup History: The Irish are 14-9 all-time against the Eagles (Last Meeting 2017: Notre Dame won 49-20)
  • Current Odds: Notre Dame -19.0

Weather Forecast

The current forecast for GameDay shows a 20% chance of rain with a high of 41 degrees and a low of 29.

Boston College Details:

  • Conference: ACC (Atlantic Division)
  • Head Coach: Steve Addazio
  • 2019 Record: 5-5 (3-4)
  • 2018 Record: 7-5

Boston College Storylines

Battle for the Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl. The Eagles dominated this rivalry at the turn of the century. Boston College won 6 straight meetings against the Irish from 2001 to 2008. Since Notre Dame has been on a 6-game winning streak in this historical rivalry. If Steve Addazio and the Eagles want to end the skid, they will have to beat the Irish at Notre Dame Stadium.

Key Boston College Players. Starting quarterback, Anthony Brown, is out with a season-ending injury. Since Brown’s injury, backup quarterback Dennis Grosel has played reasonably. Grosel is 49 for 99 (49.5%) with 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. On the ground, he has 25 attempts for 107 yards (4.3 yards per carry) and 1 touchdown.

AJ Dillon is dominating in the backfield. Through 10 games, the Boston College running back has 272 attempts for 1,451 yards (5.3 yards per carry) and 13 touchdowns. Dillon has 37 total touchdowns in his collegiate career.

The main targets for the Eagles are Kobay White, Zay Flowers, and tight end Hunter Long. White has 22 receptions for 363 yards (16.5 yards per catch) with 5 touchdowns. Flowers has tallied 19 catches for 312 yards and 3 touchdowns while Hunter Long has 21 receptions for 411 yards (19.6 yards per catch) with one score.

Notre Dame Storylines

Best game of Ian Book’s career? Since the game-winning drive against the Virginia Tech Hokies, this Notre Dame Offense has been rolling. Last weekend, Book went 14 for 20 through the air with 5 touchdowns, and he didn’t play most of the second half. On the ground, he tallied 31 rushing yards, which led the Irish on the day.

Chip Long’s Offense has taken off down the stretch. Ian Book has become the quarterback that fans expected to see all season. Notre Dame has finally started to use more of their deep threats via Chase Claypool and Braden Lenzy. If the Irish can continue this path the rest of the year, Ian Book will be one of the top quarterbacks in all of college football heading into 2020.

Irish seeking New Year’s Six Bowl. Notre Dame was sitting at #16 in the College Football Playoffs when they faced Navy. There are two weeks left in the regular season, plus conference championships. If the Irish can win and possibly dominate these next few matchups, they should finish in the top 10 for the College Football Playoffs.

Understandably, Notre Dame fans want to see the Irish win a marquee matchup this fall. But they will not have the opportunity with only Boston College and Stanford remaining on the schedule. Now, a win at Stanford would be huge, since Notre Dame hasn’t won there since 2007. The next opportunity Brian Kelly and the Irish will have to get a defining win will be their bowl matchup.

Senior Day in South Bend. The Notre Dame Seniors will be playing their final game at Notre Dame Stadium this Saturday afternoon. Like every college football season, it feels as only yesterday that the Irish were facing Louisville on Labor Day Night to finish off the first weekend of the season.

If the Irish can take care of business these next two weeks, they will be on their way to 3 straight 10-win seasons.

Head to Head Matchups

Notre Dame Offense vs. Boston College Defense: The Boston College Defense is giving up 31.4 points per game this season. Against Clemson, the Eagles surrendered 59 points on the road. Conversely, the Irish Offense has been on fire these past few weeks. Expect the Eagles Defense to lock in on Chase Claypool this weekend, as he has been torching defenses.

The advantage in this category is with Ian Book and the resurging Irish Offense.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Boston College Offense vs. Notre Dame Defense: The Eagles are without their starting quarterback, Anthony Brown. But Dennis Grosel has stepped in and had respectable production with the offense.

The Irish Defense will have to transition back from the triple-option last weekend, but they will be up for the task. Even with multiple injuries on the Notre Dame Defense, they are continuing to dominate. I give the advantage to Clark Lea’s Defense.

Advantage: Notre Dame

Special Teams: Aaron Boumerhi headlines the Boston College kicking game. On the season, he is 8 for 13 with a long of 45 yards. Conversely, Jonathan Doerer is 8 for 10 this year with a long of 52 yards on the season for the Irish.

Chris Finke is starting to make more of an impact in the punt-return game. He returned a punt for a touchdown last week, but it was negated for holding.

There is no distinct advantage in this department.


My Prediction

The game-winning drive against Virginia Tech appears to be just what Ian Book and the Irish Offense needed. Since that drive, the entire Notre Dame Football team has dominated their opponents.

Brian Kelly and the Irish have major bowl aspirations with two remaining “rivals” in front of them. No, the Irish won’t be making the playoffs this season, and that is the goal every season. But, if Notre Dame can finish the season off 10-2 with wins over three straight rivals, it will be a great bounce back. Who knows, the Irish may get to face a top-tier opponent in the bowl game.

These past few weeks, I have been pessimistic when picking the Irish to win. However, after the performances these past three weeks, I believe Notre Dame will continue their dominance this week.

Prediction: Notre Dame 49 Boston College 17

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  1. A word about Notre Dame’s “Forest'” As in, “you can’t see the forest if the trees are in the way>”

    There have several astounding changes in the Notre Dame Forest over the last three years.

    It;s not that this team differs from ’16’s but that there has been an astounding cultural shift.

    PLAYER OWNERSHIP. Intangibles are tricky, partly because they are intangible, partly because they defy the au courant fetish
    with metrics, and partly
    because they are not bite size for social media/Twitrterverse, with an attention span that musca domestica puts to shame.
    But for myriad reasons, the folks recruited, their quality, the winter swat teams, coaches who listen, and a bevy of captains,
    there is greater ownership
    and accountability of the players.

    Last week when the players asked Kelly to have the staff “work them hard” It was as if Noah’s dove returned with an olive branch in its mouth.
    the waters of chaos, daunting in ’16 but cresting before, were subsiding.


    Elliott, Vaughn, Kareem, Love and Pride should NOT have played in ’16. They weren’t nearly ready, not even the estimable Love.
    It’s different now. Only the transcendent Hamilton, Lacey, Bramblett, and, perhaps Cross will lose their redshirts.

    That is a massive shift.

    The organism has learned to manage its roster, adjust for transfers and the transfer portal, a door which swings both way, by Pryor!
    and provide a margin of safety for the typical offseason attrition.

    This bodes well for the future, as players like Foskey and Williams, and perhaps others, have to wait quietly and redshirt.


    the quiet puppeteer of the roster management, he is not visible to recruitnicks and the pushers who supply them.

    But he operates quietly, and has been very effective in getting ND away from players who will not stay long.
    the Irish recruiting machine swiftly,
    but quietly drops kids who will be more comfortable in other environs.

    These items, and others, are not in silos, they have synergy. And the roster now is deeper, vastly more athletic
    (second stringer Moala’s play last week was, for the lack of
    a better phrase “SEC worthy”) with a greater capacity to absorb the vagaries of college football, as in five starters lost this year:
    Kevin Austin, Kraemer, Hayes, Okwara and Hainsey. As recently as ’16 that would have crippled the team. Not any more.

    Many folks opine that “we’re just a player away” ; Many have chosen Tyree as their Messiah. I demur.
    I anticipate, without assurance, that his freshman season will
    be unremarkable. But we’ll see. Give me GREAT DEPTH over one GREAT PLAYER.

    Overall, this organism is stronger, a richer forest. Much of the board commentary is quarterback-centric, a modern phenomenon, whether
    appropriate or misguided. But this ND organism, this forest, Is far healthierr, vibrant and richer than its predecessors.

    This may get to be fun!

    Go Irish!

      1. Duranko — seriously though — I agree the 2020 team looks to be the first of the Kelly regime–to due recruiting–to be one of the best. Depth in returning players and perhaps some surprising freshmen making a statement for quality playing time–will enhance the offense. We know who they are.

    1. Tyree maybe great. However Kelly may not let him play unless he really shows out. He tends to go with experience over youth unless the kid is so good like Michael Floyd was. There is an article up that Florida State is maybe showing interest in Kelly. I dont think he would leave Notredame but you never know.He wouldnt have any restrictions at Florida State as he does now. Guys watching Ohio State Clemson LSU I just dont know if Notredame can ever get to that level.As a long time 63 year old fan I would like to think they can.Here is what I think and I will make an analogy with the Tampa Bay Ray’s in baseball When former manager Joe Maddon was asked how can the Ray’s compete with Boston and the Yankees when those teams have 4 to 5 times the payroll as Tampa.Maddons answer was we will never be able to put 8 position players on the field that can match those teams.However if I can get 3 or 4 all star level pitchers and a great bullpen we can beat them. They did for a few years. Well I think it’s the same thing with Notredame.Kelly said are ceiling is between 5 to 12 in recruiting. We can’t recruit top 5 classes every year like Alabama Ohio State Clemson Oklahoma LSU Georgia etc. So how can Notredame beat these teams. Recruit a heisman trophy level qb every year. The qb handles the ball every play.He is the most important position on the field. The top 6 teams in college football have the 6 best qbs Herbert Oregon Hurts Oklahoma Lawrence Clemson Fields Ohio State Burrows LSU Tua when he was playing Alabama. Can Book or Phil get there next year? I guess we can all hope.Maybe Book is blossoming.I need to see in these last 3 games especially in the bowl game where the opponent will be good hopefully.

      1. I agree that as well as ND has recruited the past few years there is a ceiling that does not exist at
        all of the so called elite programs. It’s not just admission standards, but the academic grind of taking more demanding courses as well. If BK ever leaves for another college job it will be because he will be able to recruit most anyone he wants and needs. Never say never, but I don’t think that will ever be
        the case ND. I do have hope of a NC and think that is possible despite the lack of “coaches
        choices” in recruiting. Winning a NC when not on a level playing field in recruiting makes the
        achievement even more special.

    2. Give me a “Tony Dorsett” to go with an already loaded team any day, thank you very much. Not that I’m comparing Tyree to Dorsett in running style (yet), or even physique…I use him only as an example for what an explosive runner can do for a team as a freshman. Over his four years at Pitt, Tony racked up tons of yards against 2 ARA defenses and 2 DEVINE defenses, and although Pitt did not win the NC until 76′ – Tony’s senior year (and mine too) – he changed Pitt’s fortunes from day one. Tyree does not have to do that…our fortunes have already changed…he only has to change our backfield. The rest of the team is there already, and plenty deep.

      In the meanwhile, let’s make Frank Leahy smile from heaven by playing a GREAT game on Saturday. HERE COME THE IRISH!
      And don’t worry about what the polls do (or don’t do). If great execution (and fun) continue through November, it hardly matters at all who we play in whatever Bowl…it’s a JOY for me to watch, and it ought to be for all of you as well.

      BGC ’77 ’82

      1. One other thing, Bruce. Don’t know if you were at the Navy game or watched on TV.

        But they showed a shot of Equanimeous St. Brown, IN HIS LETTER JACKET, slapping the sign, with a smile on his face.

        It was a nice reminder that even though fans don’t always “get it,.” the players do..

      2. Duranko, I missed the NAVY game, but I’ll be at Boston College with one of my brothers. You, NDCRAZYMIKE, and Southside get it for sure on this team not quitting. Instead they are racking up momentum for the Bowl and for next year…and that bodes well for our first realistic shot at a National Championship since 1993. We let Boston College disrupt that one, but they will be the guys who get disrupted tomorrow! GO IRISH GO!

        BGC ’77 ’82

  2. Need to light up 60! And I don’t mean 60 minutes. The second unit should play at least a full quarter,
    And unlike last week BK needs to let Jukovec air it out to see how real he is

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