NOTRE DAME FIGHTING IRISH (1-1)
at BOSTON COLLEGE EAGLES (1-1)
Alumni Stadium – Chestnut Hill, MA
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Line: Notre Dame -13.5, Total: 51
The Pope's favorite college football rivalry returns to Chestnut Hill, where Notre Dame takes on Boston College on Saturday.
Neither the Notre Dame Fighting Irish nor the Boston College Eagles very much enjoyed Week 2 of the college football season, as each squad fell to .500 in disappointing losses that followed Week 1 triumphs. Playing in one of the most buzzed-about matchups to hit South Bend in recent memory, the Irish saw their stadium overtaken by a sea of Georgia red and fell 20-19 to the Bulldogs. It was a game in which Notre Dame was favored by 5.5 points. Their lackluster performance on offense was especially disappointing, seeing as how the unit had looked the best it has in a long time in a 49-16 season-opening win over Temple (ND -20). For Boston College, their first loss of the season came as a brutal 34-10 home defeat to Wake Forest. Each program is looking to climb out of the basement of the ACC standings here. Any optimism among Eagle fans inspired by a 23-20 Week 1 win at Northern Illinois (NIU +3.5) was pretty much extinguished. Since 1992, Notre Dame is 17-4 Under against the total in road games when coming off an offensive performance of 75 rushing yards or fewer. Since the beginning of the 2015 season, Boston College is 12-2 under when coming off of a SU loss.
For Notre Dame, junior QB Brandon Wimbush still seems to be getting his feet under him in his first year as a starter. He was solid in his debut against Temple, going 17-of-30 for 184 yards, two touchdowns and a pick, and also rushing for 106 yards and a score. Predictably, he was less effective against the Bulldogs' SEC defense, but the extent to which he was worse was discouraging. He looked inaccurate and hesitant in completing 19 of 39 passes for 211 yards against the Dawgs, and although he picked up a rushing touchdown he never really got things going on the ground. It didn't help that OT Mike McGlinchey missed a key block at the end of the game, allowing the Wimbush to be sacked for the third time and to lose a fumble from the blindside hit. His wide receivers were fittingly quiet on the day, with WR Cameron Smith catching three balls for 45 yards and star WR Equanimeous St. Brown was locked down for 16 yards on two catches. Wimbush's leading receiver was RB Josh Adams, who had six catches for 60 yards. After tearing up Temple for 422 yards on the ground, the Irish had only 55 against Georgia. Adams carried the ball 19 times for a mere 53 yards. The Notre Dame defense looked solid against a star-studded Bulldogs running game, limiting RBs Sony Michel and Nick Chubb to 136 yards between them. They benefitted from being able to load the box against a freshman QB, though, making them look a little stouter than they actually are up the middle. Georgia dedicated similar resources to stopping Notre Dame on the ground, and Wimbush needs to improve so that other opponents can't do the same.
Like the Irish, Boston College is trotting out a first-time starter at quarterback this season. Unlike Wimbush, though, true freshman Anthony Brown doesn't have years of experience in the program under his belt, and it's shown. The playbook has him throwing plenty of short passes—he's 26th in the nation with 71 passes thrown—but he has only mustered a miserable 4.4 yards per attempt, putting him at 124th in the country. It was certainly reasonable for his starter status to be put in question after the Wake Forest defeat, a game in which he went 11-of-29 for 119 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. The Eagles committed four turnovers overall, and the Deacons converted them for a total of 21 points on their ensuing possessions. To be fair to Brown, the blame for two of his interceptions on the day belongs mostly with his receivers. He was also better in Week 1, going 26-of-42 for 191 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He's not anywhere near what you could call a "playmaker," though, and you can bet Notre Dame DC Mike Elko will feel comfortable making him beat them and focusing in on the run game. BC rode RB Jon Hilliman, last year's leading rusher, for 25 carries against Northern Illinois, but he only managed 58 yards. He only received eight carries for 23 yards against Wake Forest, while freshman RB AJ Dillon got 15 carries and split end Thadd Smith took five carries for 46 yards. Brown's leading receivers through two games are freshman WR Kobay White (10 catches, 118 yards), WR Jeff Smith (8 catches, 74 yards) and WR Michael Walker (10 catches, 62 yards, TD).