GAME NOTES: The Boston College Eagles are set to wrap up their season-opening four-game homestand this weekend, as they host the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill.
The Eagles won two of three on their current homestand, but are coming off a 19-0 loss to Virginia Tech in their ACC opener last weekend. It marked the first shutout of BC in 149 games, dating back to 1998. The Eagles are now hoping to score some points so they can close their homestand on a high note before heading out to the road for two straight games.
Notre Dame meanwhile, has dropped three games in a row and seven of its last eight dating back to last season. Since opening the Brian Kelly era with a win over Purdue, the Irish have suffered heart-breaking losses to Michigan and Michigan State before being handled by nationally ranked Stanford, 37-14, last weekend. That makes 11 consecutive defeats versus Top 25 opponents for ND, with five of them coming at home.
As far as the all-time series is concerned, ND holds a 10-9 edge over BC courtesy of a 20-16 victory last season. That snapped a six-game losing skid in the series for the Irish.
Following a 369-yard and four-TD performance versus Michigan State, QB Dayne Crist struggled last weekend and completed just 25 of 44 tosses for 304 yards with one TD and a pick. That yardage wasn't all too bad, but most of it came when the game was out of reach and his lone INT was also returned for a score. Crist though, has enjoyed a solid start to the year and he is averaging 288.8 passing ypg, with eight TDs against three INTs. He has plenty of weapons at his disposal, as Michael Floyd, Kyle Rudolph and Theo Riddick have all accumulated over 20 catches and 250 receiving yards. Floyd led the trio with eight receptions for 110 yards last weekend, while Riddick added seven receptions for 71 yards and a score. Armando Allen is the team's top rusher with 302 yards, but the Irish have scored just twice on the ground this season.
The Irish defense had all sorts of problems trying to get off the field last weekend, as Stanford went 11 of 16 on third downs to help it possess the ball for over 36 minutes. ND gave up 25 first downs and 404 total yards to Stanford, which gained 166 rushing yards on 44 carries. The Irish did force three turnovers, but the defense has struggled up to this point, allowing 433.8 total ypg. Manti Te'o was one of the few bright spots for the defense last weekend, as he totaled an incredible 21 tackles, giving him a team-best 54 for the season.
Through three games, the Eagles have turned the ball over eight times and are managing only 322.0 ypg. The poor production has cost QB David Shinskie his starting job, as Mike Marscovetra or Chase Rettig are expected to be under center this weekend. The 26-year-old Shinskie just hasn't been able to get going and his struggles were brought front-and-center last weekend against Virginia Tech when he completed just 11 of 25 tosses for 130 yards and two INTs. With a new starter expected, look for BC to lean more on TB Montel Harris, who has rushed for 306 yards and a score on the campaign. Harris was about the only effective player versus Virginia Tech last weekend, as he rushed for 111 yards on 19 carries, while catching a team-high five passes for 21 yards.
Defensively, the Eagles bent, but never broke last weekend, keeping Virginia Tech to four field goals and just one TD. The unit was obviously tough in the red zone, helping compensate for some of the 343 yards it surrendered. The defense has played a big part in the team's ability to win two games thus far, as BC has forced eight turnovers while holding foes to 309.7 total ypg. The Eagles, though, haven't faced any teams with a high-powered offense, so this unit still has a lot to prove. Luke Kuechly, coming off a 16-tackle performance, has been a steady defender for the Eagles and he tops the roster with 37 stops for the season.
The Irish have struggled to slow down opponents, but now faces a BC club that doesn't have much going offensively. ND should come up with enough big plays to get back into the win column this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Notre Dame 24, Boston College 17
Sat., Oct. 2, 8:00 p.m. EST