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Game Day: No. 4 Notre Dame vs. Boston College

Nov 10, 2012, 8:00 AM EDT

Pittsburgh v Notre Dame Getty Images

A week after being pushed to their limit by a feisty underdog, No. 4 Notre Dame is in Boston ready to take on a school that relishes any opportunity to knock off the Fighting Irish.

Some might say when Boston College plays Notre Dame you can throw away the records. But to do that would overlook some serious advantages for the Irish, who do an awful lot of things good that just so happen to correspond with some fatal flaws of the 2-7 Eagles.

Saturday night could be the game where the Eagles finally fight for head coach Frank Spaziani’s job. Or it could be the game that finally pushes the embattled head coach off the ever-present edge.

As another primetime game approaches, let’s run through a few final questions I have before kickoff.

How many yards will the Irish run for? Notre Dame could put up a really big number on the ground this weekend. Boston College is ranked 119th in the country against the run, giving up 232 yards a game at an almost five-yards a crack average.

The Irish ran for that many yards last week and it felt like they abandoned the run to fight their way back against Pitt. Don’t expect Brian Kelly to let Notre Dame forget about running the ball, getting Cierre Wood involved early and often to shake off that goal line fumble.

Expect a 300-yard output on the ground from the Irish offense. The only BCS conference defense worse against the run is Miami, and Notre Dame racked up 376 yards on the ground against the Hurricanes.

Can Notre Dame turn Boston College’s one-dimensional offense against them? For as bad as the Eagles’ rush defense is, their own ground game is actually worse. Boston College is a putrid 122nd running the football, with only Mike Leach’s Washington State team doing worse in a BCS conference.

The Eagles only average 74 yards a game on the ground, all but turning their offense into a one-dimensional scheme themselves. But with Notre Dame’s stout rush defense, expect to see the Eagles throw early and often.

The good news for Boston College is that Chase Rettig quarterbacks the offense, the Eagles’ best offensive weapon. The bad news? Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix, Prince Shembo and company will be pinning their ears back looking for sacks.

Alex Amidon is having a terrific season this year as Rettig’s number one target, and he’s a threat to keep an eye on. But for the Eagles to have a shot, they’ll need to run the ball at least somewhat effectively, if only to keep Bob Diaco’s defense honest.

Can the Irish show some offensive efficiency in the red zone? Everett Golson feeling more comfortable behind center is important. But it won’t matter how at home Golson feels if he can’t get the offense into the end zone. With Tyler Eifert and a ground game that’s running for 200 yards a game, there’s no excuse for the Irish to be scoring touchdowns on only 45% of their possessions, a putrid 114th in the country.

Whether its a new scheme, quicker decision making, or just better execution, Golson needs to fair better inside the 20. And that means getting seven points in the red zone, if only to help the offense keep pace with the defense.

Is Bob Diaco auditioning for a job? Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator is starting to becomeĀ  a national commodity. And as the energetic, passionate leader of the resurgent Irish defense, Bob Diaco has started to find his name on some athletic directors’ short-list for upcoming vacancies.

Diaco is a guy that seems like a good fit for the Eagles if they decide to make a change at head coach and look to pluck a young assistant. He’s from the northeast, recruits well, and has learned from a few head coaches that know a thing or two about football.

While he’s still got to learn some of the finer touches that go along with being the face of a program, Diaco might be getting a closer look from Eagles athletic director Brad Bates, the man who was hired last month to take over Boston College sports.

Will Notre Dame keep up their good play away from home and score some style points? A lopsided victory probably won’t do much to sway a pollsters thoughts on an Irish team that’s won in sometimes less than convincing fashion.

But with three games to go — and two undermanned opponents before USC — Brian Kelly needs to get his football team playing their best football in the season’s final month.

Kelly cited his team’s heart of a champion for coming back and defeating Pitt in triple-overtime. He also discussed the need to develop the mind of a champion, something that’s going to be needed if the Irish are going to escape Saturday night unscathed.

A team like Boston College didn’t lose its pride overnight, and they’ll be fighting for their coaches’ job tonight. Notre Dame got away with overlooking an opponent last weekend. With a hostile crowd and a team with nothing to lose, it’ll be key for the Irish to let Boston College know early that they’ve got no place competing with Notre Dame.

  1. NotreDan - Nov 10, 2012 at 8:19 AM

    I’m Shippin’ up to Boston!

    GO IRISH.

    • nudeman - Nov 10, 2012 at 1:46 PM

      Whoa, whoa …..

    • irishdrg1 - Nov 10, 2012 at 10:07 PM

      Poor little Sparty does not have a team to pull for,,,get use to it, stay on our site and watch a WINNER… From here in southeast Texas we don’t crawl around looking at other teams sites, man up sissy boy…we got help from one Texas team this week and another will beat K State in a week or two

  2. irishking - Nov 10, 2012 at 8:27 AM

    The game should be a no-contest event and a real opportunity for quarterback Everett Golson to fine tune his skills. ND 52 BC 6

  3. 1historian - Nov 10, 2012 at 8:39 AM

    The story is told of a BC-ND game a few years back. In the locker room before the game the BC coach asked his players – how many of you were recruited by Notre Dame? Not a hand went up.

    BC 17 – 0.

    • bernhtp - Nov 10, 2012 at 9:07 AM

      There would be a similar result if the entire BC student body were asked “how many of you were accepted for admission by Notre Dame?”

      P.S. BC won’t win this game, let alone with a score of 17 – 0

    • irishdrg1 - Nov 10, 2012 at 9:49 PM

      your dreaming HISSY girl

  4. yaketyyacc - Nov 10, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    yes keith, the sound is growing: diaco, Diaco, DIACO. whatever he decides to do, we all in the ND nation wish him continued success.

  5. upthera44 - Nov 10, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    Are there any reasons to think Diaco would forego being a head coach and want to stay on at Notre Dame? Are they ways to entice him to stay? While I can certainly understand why coaches in his position might want to take a head coaching job, isn’t there a lot to be said for being the #2 guy at one of the greatest programs in the country that is on the rise? I really hope he stays, he is my favorite ND game bar none.

    • upthera44 - Nov 10, 2012 at 10:49 AM

      Wow, clearly didn’t drink my coffee today.

      *Are there ways…

      *he is my favorite ND COACH bar none

    • alsatiannd - Nov 10, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      “Bob, who you gonna win a national championship with first, Notre Dame or Boston College?”

  6. mtflsmitty - Nov 10, 2012 at 10:57 AM

    “Excessive use of the word “putrid”, Keith Arnold of the writing team. Penalty – 15 writing consultations from Dick Asman”.

    Just having fun. Thanks for everything you do, Keith.

    Go Irish!

    • NotreDan - Nov 10, 2012 at 12:49 PM

      One of these things is not like the others,
      One of these things just doesn’t belong,
      Can you tell which thing is not like the others
      By the time I finish my song?

      Did you guess which thing was not like the others?
      Did you guess which thing just doesn’t belong?
      If you guessed this one is not like the others,
      Then you’re absolutely…right!

  7. yllibnosredna - Nov 10, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    upthera44,

    I may be in the minority here, but I don’t see why Diaco leaving after this year is a foregone conclusion. Don’t get me wrong. The guy has done an amazing job and is totally deserving of a head coaching job, but:

    a) I think there are better HC vacancies out there than BC following the 2012 season. Hang tight a couple years, further build up the resume, and a higher profile program coaching opportunity might present itself. Think Muschamp to Florida in 2011.

    b) Kirby Smart is still at Alabama. John Chavis is still at LSU. Bud Foster, after having some dominating defenses in the late 90′s and early 2000′s, is STILL at Va. Tech.

    Really don’t see why, at this point, a MAJOR raise in salary wouldn’t be enough to coax Diaco to stay. Once again, I think Diaco is too talented to remain an assistant forever, but I can see him having some far better options down the road in the next couple of years. Then again, maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part.

    • italianirish - Nov 10, 2012 at 5:30 PM

      I agree. As the DC you get to spend 100% of your time thinking about defense. As a head coach you have to attend media events, talk at alumni luncheons and all that other stuff that goes with being the face of a program. I would assume (but not entirely sure) that the head coach has to do a lot more with regards to recruiting than the defensive coordinator as well.

      Can’t speak for Diaco, but it’s quite likely that a lot of guys wouldn’t want to deal with that stuff if they just truly love the coaching aspect.

  8. irishfan4ever - Nov 10, 2012 at 5:20 PM

    Hey anyone checking out the Alabama Texas A&M game? I’m a little shocked right now. Second game in a row bama hasn’t looked sharp. They better be careful someone might catch them napping.

    • papadec - Nov 10, 2012 at 6:54 PM

      TOUCHDOWN A&M – 2 point conversion missed. A&M up 29-17 in the 4th QTR with 8 minutes to go! GO A&M!!!!!!

    • c4evr - Nov 10, 2012 at 6:54 PM

      I am… can you say HeisMANZIEL??

      • jerseyshorendfan1 - Nov 10, 2012 at 7:55 PM

        That kid is the real deal, what a performance.

      • irishdrg1 - Nov 10, 2012 at 9:53 PM

        You mean HesiMainti

  9. irishfan4ever - Nov 10, 2012 at 6:51 PM

    Number 1 is in trouble

  10. jerseyshorendfan1 - Nov 10, 2012 at 7:00 PM

    I know it’s an ABC broadcast but will there be a live blog tonight?

  11. irishfan4ever - Nov 10, 2012 at 7:08 PM

    I think we are gonna have a new number 1

  12. irishfan4ever - Nov 10, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    Done deal bama falls

  13. oldestguard - Nov 10, 2012 at 7:16 PM

    Down goes ‘Bama !!!

    • irishdrg1 - Nov 10, 2012 at 9:55 PM

      One down one to go

  14. papadec - Nov 10, 2012 at 7:16 PM

    A&M HOLDS ON! #1 FALLS!!!!!! GO IRISH!!!!!!!

    • bernhtp - Nov 10, 2012 at 7:21 PM

      That was a great game. I imagine that Alabama will fall to #4, assuming that none of the other top 4 unbeaten teams lose.

  15. whodabigdog - Nov 10, 2012 at 7:20 PM

    it’s over! It’s all over! c’mon TCU

    • bernhtp - Nov 10, 2012 at 7:51 PM

      It looks like TCU will let us down.

  16. irishfan4ever - Nov 10, 2012 at 7:22 PM

    Well big chance for Irish to move up. Hope we can win this one and look more dominate in doing so. Go Irish

  17. canadianirish - Nov 10, 2012 at 7:24 PM

    Cal would work too!!

  18. irishfan4ever - Nov 10, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    Really would like for Oregon to drop one would like seeing a K-state ND game. I think that would be a pretty good game.

  19. yogihilt - Nov 10, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    Johnny Football for Heisman runner-up ………… behind T’eo

    • jmfinsd - Nov 10, 2012 at 8:00 PM

      Love T’eo. But sadly at this point, unless he gets a pick 6 or fumble recovery for TD, I think all we can expect is a trip to NY, which would still be an amazing feat. Sad but true. Go ahead, give the thumbs down.

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