No. 16 Notre Dame vs. Boston College: Who, what, when, where, why and by how much

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WHO? No. 16 Notre Dame (8-2) vs. Boston College (5-5).

WHAT? A myriad of game-adjacent occasions, including Senior Day and a chance to run the home winning streak to 18 games, going undefeated in South Bend for the second consecutive year. 

WHEN? 2:30 ET. Kickoff will follow 11 minutes later, but before the game begins, the broadcast will include the introductions of the senior Irish captains, ending with fifth-year receiver Chris Finke.

WHERE? Notre Dame Stadium, South Bend, Ind. Cloudy skies will cap temperatures at 40 degrees, per early Saturday forecasts.

The Irish have not lost at home since Georgia’s arrival in 2017, beating six top-25 teams during the run. Only Clemson, Central Florida, Ohio State and UAB have longer home winning streaks. Winning at home, even games expected to win, is simply not as easy as it is made out to be.

“To do that on a consistent basis over a long period of time, it requires a lot of preparation, a lot of playmakers,” Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly said Thursday. “It requires a lot of things to come together over.”

Not to look past Boston College, but just as the Irish are favored against the Eagles, they should be favored in all but one home game next season, when Clemson visits on Nov. 7. At that point, the streak could be at 22 wins.

NBC will have the national broadcast, with the game streaming online and via the NBC Sports app. As always, NBC Sports Gold is available to international fans.

NBCSN will also have a “Notre Dame fan feed.”

WHY? Why a fan feed? Well, first of all, why ever complain about options? The secondary viewing experience will use the broadcast footage, but with the Notre Dame Radio call of Paul Burmeister and Ryan Harris as its primary audio. During breaks, NBC Sports’ Ahmed Fareed, former Irish running back Darius Walker, Sports Illustrated producer Jessica Smetana and reporter Tony Simeone will provide Notre Dame-centric commentary, including segments from different spots within the Stadium.

They will also be joined by Irish senior defensive end Daelin Hayes, sidelined by a shoulder injury, who should offer unique analysis knowing the entire defensive playbook.

WHAT IS NOTRE DAME WEARING? As part of the 150th anniversary of college football, the Irish will don 1988-themed uniforms with the commemorative 150 patches seen across the country this year. The differences between these and the usual uniforms may be hard to spot but focus on the white of the jersey numbers, as it is intended to look like the mesh worn by the most-recent Notre Dame national champions.

BY HOW MUCH? Some worry about the “Navy hangover” created by shifting focuses to defend the triple-option for a week, but bookmakers are not among them, favoring the Irish by three touchdowns with a combined point total over/under of 64.5, as of just past midnight Eastern on Friday. Some may wonder how Notre Dame will score the 43 points projected by that math against a Power Five defense, but they are giving too much credit to Boston College. Its defense ranks No. 121, of 130, in passing efficiency. In the entire country, only seven teams give up 300 passing yards per game, the Eagles among them at 302.3 yards per game. That is worse than Bowling Green.

The Irish gashed Bowling Green for six passing touchdowns back in early October, when their offense was touch-and-go, not consistently humming. Given Notre Dame’s last nine quarters, it is reasonable to think the Eagles could be in for worse treatment than the Falcons received.

If that is the case, Boston College simply does not have the ability to catch up quickly. AJ Dillon is as good a back as there is in 49 states — the 50th being Wisconsin with Jonathan Taylor — but his 5.33 yards per carry reflects his 272 rushing attempts. He does occasionally break big runs, but it is more likely he chips away at the Irish defense with 4-, 5- and 6-yard runs, not a reliable way to make up a deficit.

In that respect, this should be similar to last week’s game against Navy’s triple-option. The Midshipmen could not catch up once Notre Dame had a lead. The difference between the two? As hard as this may be to believe, Navy’s passing defense is far and away better than the Eagles’.

The Irish should strike quickly, be it via Chase Claypool or Cole Kmet or Chris Finke. They should strike often, keeping Claypool on pace for 1,000 yards this season, raising Kmet’s possible draft profile (though he has said he will return in 2020) and giving Finke a proper farewell. They should heel-click just like a week ago.

At some point, Dillon will break through Notre Dame’s defense. But he will not be enough, as has been the case for much of his career.

Notre Dame 45, Boston College 20.
(9-1 in pick; 4-6 against the spread, 4-6 point total.)

INSIDE THE IRISH READING:
Notre Dame, Clark Lea comfortable with option
The Fiesta-Peach Anomaly in a top-heavy year
And In That Corner … The Boston College Eagles and their hopes to run through Notre Dame
Chase Claypool: From Canada to Notre Dame, from special teams to select company
Things To Learn: Final recognition for Notre Dame’s senior class that saw both failure and success

OUTSIDE READING:
AJ Dillon’s connection with Notre Dame? His grandfather was a star for the Irish
AJ Dillon successfully created legacy by not following grandfather Thom Gatewood’s path
Flyover details
PFF rankings: College starting quarterbacks through week 12
His final Notre Dame team didn’t always show up, but on this day Charlie Weis did ($)
2020 NFL draft wide receivers watch
New Mexico down to 57 players on scholarship