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Notre Dame-Boston College: Five Things to Watch

Sept. 14, 2017

By John Heisler

This intersectional rivalry did not begin until 1975 and the two teams didn’t begin playing regularly until midway through the Lou Holtz era at Notre Dame. But, in a short time, Irish-Boston College games became matchups worth watching. The last time these teams met came in Fenway Park in 2015 when the Irish had to battle (buoyed by DeShone Kizer’s 324 passing yards) until the end for a 19-16 victory.

Here are some areas to check out Saturday in Chestnut Hill:

  1. Bouncing back. Both these teams are coming off losses last Saturday, so how will they react? This begins a road stretch for Notre Dame, with another away-from-home assignment next weekend at Michigan State and then a trip to Chapel Hill to play North Carolina on Oct. 7. Boston College’s upcoming schedule is no easier either–with the Eagles slated to play at defending national champion Clemson next week.
  2. The atmosphere. Alumni Stadium has been known to be a wild and crazy place when Notre Dame comes to town. So what exactly will be the emotional climate inside Boston College’s home facility on Saturday afternoon? And what sort of emotion will these two teams bring to the field? The Irish have not lost to the Eagles in nine years, so no one on the current Irish roster has known anything but success against Boston College. But this is an opponent that has been a thorn in the side of Notre Dame on more than one occasion, as Irish coach Brian Kelly has noted this week.
  3. The quarterbacks. The first time Brandon Wimbush throws a pass Saturday will be the first time he has done that in a college football game away from Notre Dame Stadium. His lone road appearance in 2015 came late against Pittsburgh and produced three rushing attempts. Meanwhile, the Eagles start a redshirt freshman at that position in Anthony Brown. He completed 26 of 42 for 191 yards and two TDs in Boston College’s win over Northern Illinois, then threw three interceptions last week versus Wake Forest. The quarterback that plays with the most poise and production will go a long way to securing a win for his team.
  4. Facing Landry. After a battle with a quick Georgia defense a week ago, Notre Dame’s offensive front this week must find a way to handle Boston College senior defensive end Harold Landry (6-3, 250), a second-team All-American in 2016 who led the nation in sacks (16) and forced fumbles (seven). Last Saturday against Wake Forest Landry had five tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and one pass break-up.
  5. The ACC. This marks the first of Notre Dame’s five games in 2017 against Atlantic Coast Conference foes. The Irish also play on the road at North Carolina and Miami and at home versus North Carolina State and Wake Forest. This also marks the fourth season the Irish have played (generally) five games against ACC opponents (actually four in 2014 and six in 2015), with Notre Dame standing 9-6 in those games over the first three seasons. Away from Notre Dame Stadium, the Irish are 5-3–with three of the wins coming at neutral sites. Notre Dame away-from-home victories have come twice at the Meadowlands against Syracuse (2014 and 2016), at Virginia (2015), at Pittsburgh (2015) and against Boston College (2015 at Fenway Park).