A bowl game is officially out of reach, but the Boston College Eagles will treat Saturday night's affair with the rival Notre Dame Fighting Irish just like one.
The Eagles (2-7, 1-5 ACC) have morphed into underachievers ever since fourth-year head coach Frank Spaziani took the reigns, and only have one win against an FBS opponent this season -- a narrow 20-17 victory against Maryland.
Boston College's struggles have stemmed from a seemingly non-existant defense that ranks in the bottom half of the league in total team defense (87th in points against; 30.9) and 14th to last in yards allowed per game (477.4).
Offensively, the Eagles have been better, ranking 27th in the country in passing yardage per game (289.2 YPG) thanks to a career-year from junior quarterback Chase Rettig (2,556 passing yards, 16 TD). The same can't be said for the running game, which ranks dead last in the nation with 74.7 yards per contest.
Notre Dame's luck has been far better this year... they do have the luck of the Irish, after all. The Fighting Irish enter Saturday's rivalry game with an undefeated 9-0 record and a No. 4 ranking in the latest BCS Standings.
Unlike the Eagles, the Irish have an offense that can struggle to move the ball -- Notre Dame averages 204.1 passing yards per game (89th in nation) and 26.7 points per game (71st in country). The defense is a different story. The Fighting Irish allow the second fewest points in the country at 11.7, led my Heisman Trophy candidate Manti Te'o (87 tackles, five INT, nine passes defended).
Boston College and Notre Dame will meet for the 22nd time on Saturday, and the Eagles trail the all-time series, 12-9. In games played between the two schools in Chestnut Hill, the series is tied, 4-4. The Fighting Irish have won the last three meetings, including a 16-14 decision a season ago in South Bend, IN.
The Fighting Irish scored the first 10 points of the game in the first quarter on a Jonas Gray 26-yard touchdown rush and a David Ruffer 40-yard field goal before BC's Josh Bordner ran two yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter to cut the Eagles' deficit to three. Ruffer hit a 41-yard field goal to make it a 13-7 Irish advantage at halftime. A third and final 27-yard field goal from Ruffer put Notre Dame up 16-7 midway through the final quarter, but Rettig's seven-yard touchdown pass to Bobby Swigert pulled the Eagles within two, 16-14, with 1:57 left. Notre Dame stopped a Boston College onside kick attempt and survived despite giving the ball back to the Eagles at their 20 with 0:08 left.
Rettig finished with 170 passing yards and a score and Tajh Kimble had 42 rushing yards. Then Notre Dame starting quarterback Tommy Rees had 256 passing yards and an interception and Cierre Wood had 94 rushing yards.
Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. ET. The game will air on ABC, WEEI and WBZ-FM.
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