Notre Dame enters Senior Day today looking to cap off another unbeaten season at home. The last time Notre Dame lost at home was back in September of 2017 when Georgia overtook Notre Dame Stadium. Boston College won’t take over Notre Dame Stadium today, and the Eagles are very unlikely to replicate what the Bulldogs did over two years ago the last time the Irish left their home field with a loss. Here’s how I see today’s game unfolding.
What I’m Worried About This Week
AJ Dillon – I have the utmost faith in Clark Lea devising a defensive game plan for today that will limit AJ Dillon’s impact, but the fact remains he is a big boy and one of the most talented running backs Notre Dame will have seen all year. He might even be the best back the Irish face this year. He has 1,451 yards on the season with 13 touchdowns and is averaging 5.3 yards a carry. Only Virginia Tech and Clemson have slowed down Dillon this year, and even Clemson allowed a 4.0 ypc to Dillon.
Boston College treating this like the Super Bowl – The one thing that can trip up Notre Dame today is Boston College treating this like the Super Bowl and Notre Dame treating it like any other game. This is a rivalry that means a whole lot more to the team in maroon than the team in blue and gold, and this game has probably been circled on BC’s calendar for a long time. They haven’t won at Notre Dame in over a decade and will play with a chip on their shoulders today. That should last for the first few minutes of the game, and then the talent will win out. Don’t be surprised if this one is close early, though.
Notre Dame’s rushing attack – For as great as the passing game has been the last few weeks, the Notre Dame rushing attack has been stuck in neutral since mid-October when Tony Jones Jr ran all over USC. Notre Dame hasn’t been able to get the ground game going since then other than Ian Book‘s outburst against Duke. It seems pretty clear that Jones and Jafar Armstrong are still banged up and not quite 100%, so I don’t think that will change much today. Luckily for Notre Dame, they should be able to get by fine this week and next with the passing game, but the lack of a rushing attack overall this year is one of the big reasons we’re now on the outside of the New Year’s 6 Bowl conversation and not in the playoff hunt.
What I’m Not Worried This Week
Senior Day – After all these seniors went through in 2016 to start their careers, I’m not worried about Senior Day jitters or emotions getting in the way. This group knows that they can go out there today and complete a second straight season undefeated at home and continue the home winning streak against a team that shouldn’t give them much of a problem.
Enjoy watching the likes of Khalid Kareem and Chase Claypool out there today. Both have been excellent players for the Irish the last four years, and we’re only going to get to see them in an Irish uniform a few more times.
Special Uniforms – The last time Notre Dame wore special jerseys for Boston College at home, things did not go well. Notre Dame isn’t wearing lime green jerseys today, though, and Tyrone Willingham isn’t coaching this team either. Notre Dame’s slightly alternative uniforms that pay homage to the 1988 National Champions aren’t the kind of jerseys that get the opposing team’s attention. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Boston College didn’t even notice the difference.
Ian Book – He’s been fantastic for the last two weeks, and Boston College’s passing defenses is one of the worst in the country. He might not throw another five touchdowns today like he did last week, but Ian Book is going to put up some big numbers today. He is currently at 26 touchdowns to 6 interceptions on the season, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he got to 30 touchdowns on the season before the end of today. He has feasted on secondaries like the one he faces today, and we finally saw him unleash the deep ball last week against Navy.
Clark Lea adjusting to whatever Boston College tries. I am worried about slowing down AJ Dillon because he’s so damn good. Still, I’m also not worried about Notre Dame defensive coordinator Clark Lea adjusting to whatever Boston College does to get AJ Dillon going. Lea’s been great all year long at adjusting to whatever the opposition has tried to do, and that will continue today. I expect Lea to come out and dare Boston College to beat them through the air. Boston College isn’t good enough in the passing game to do that.
Players I’m Watching
- Braden Lenzy – His touchdown last week was amazing to see since we’ve been waiting so long for Notre Dame to take advantage of his jets. Look for Notre Dame to dial up another deep ball for Lenzy at some point again this week. BC doesn’t have the secondary to keep up with him, so it should be there.
- Drew White – BC will try to run, even if Notre Dame dares them to pass. White could end up with another double-digit tackling effort today.
- Trevor Ruhland – What Ruhand’s done this year filling in despite mounting injuries that had doctors telling him he shouldn’t play this year has been a case study in selflessness and dedication. He gets one more game in Notre Dame Stadium today.
- All the Seniors – On that note, I’m watching all the seniors and players that we might see for the last time at home today. Kareem, Chris Finke, Claypool, Alohi Gilman, Jalen Elliott, Asmar Bilal, etc. Enjoy them today and cheer them on for what they’ve done for the program.
- Cole Kmet – And pray that this isn’t the last time we see Cole Kmet at home because he will have an opportunity to leave early for the NFL this year.
- Phil Jurkovec – Today is all about the seniors, but if Notre Dame does what it should do today, the game will end with Jurkovec on the field.
Last week I was skittish about Notre Dame’s chances against Navy, but after back to back blowouts, I am feeling really good about Notre Dame’s chances against a mediocre Boston College team. BC has brought some good team into South Bend over the years, but this is not one of them. I don’t think the running game will get on track, but I also don’t think they will need it today. Much to the chagrin of some, we’re going to see a heavy dose of passing this afternoon – as we should when facing one of the worst passing defenses in the country.
Ian Book and Chase Claypool continue the connection we’ve seen the last few weeks for another pair of touchdowns, and the Irish jump out on Boston College and roll to a Senior Day victory.
Notre Dame 42, Boston College 17