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Friday, October 23, 2009

IBG: Nasty, Brutish and Short Edition

The Irish Blogger Gathering is hosted by the Brawling Hibernian. Once you're done here you can head over there to read all the other IBG entries for BC week. Last week's loss to USC left me pretty wiped out, and so I'm way late with my IBG post for the week. Because I am so late with it, the post will be nasty, brutish and short. Really the primary purpose of writing it is to check it off my blogging "to do" list so that I don't beat myself up over letting down the group. It's not about you, it's about me.

1. Coming off a very difficult loss to a rival that has now beaten them eight straight times, Notre Dame faces another that's beaten them six straight. Can Notre Dame end the losing streak against BC or will the combined weight of the USC loss and recent history against the Eagles be too much to overcome? Explain.

Personally, I have been very slow to put the emotional USC game behind me and re-focus on Boston College. And that's the problem with the B.C. game in a nutshell, isn't it? We look at B.C. as a "nice" game to play since they are the "other" big Catholic football school. But for whatever reason the Irish never seem to take the game against the Eagles very seriously. I don't know why, but I suspect it just boils down to the fact that you can't emotionally have a big "rivalry" game every week. You get fired up for Michigan and USC and even Michigan State. In the midst of a long tough slog with no real break in the action, Boston College kind of creeps up on you as just the next game on the schedule.

B.C., on the other hand, looks at the Notre Dame game as one of their BIG rivalry games. For the Eagles, beating the Irish brings a sense of validation born of the inferiority complex that comes from being, in the eyes of most, the "other" big Catholic football school.

Which means that, psychologically, Boston College has shown up to these games more ready to play than Notre Dame has most years. Add in to the mix a very draining loss to USC last week, and the Notre Dame football team is a prime candidate for a letdown loss to B.C. To stave it off, the Irish need to be a lot more resilient than I have been since last Saturday. Hopefully they have been able to shake off the Trojans and re-focus on the Eagles during practice.

I think the Irish will get it done tomorrow. (Okay, who here is truly surprised that I like ND in this game? Seriously.) It's a real break that we get this game at home, where the team can draw some energy from the home crowd and can actually build on the positive vibes of the success they had against USC last week even though they didn't get the win.

But mostly, I think we're a better team. Notre Dame is ranked at #17 in Jeff Sagarin's computer rankings this week, going 4-2 against the 13th toughest schedule in Division I. Boston College is ranked #47, with a 5-2 record against the 82nd toughest schedule. Wins against Northeastern, Kent State, and NC State don't impress me.

2. Not unlike Notre Dame's defense, BC's offense has been pretty erratic this season. While in their most recent win, they rolled up 480 total yards and scored 52 points; in their two losses, they've averaged 109 yards and 11 points. Which BC offense and which ND defense show up on Saturday? Why?

This game has the makings of Notre Dame's first comfortable win since the Nevada game. Boston College has two narrow wins over Florida State (28-21) and Wake Forest (27-24). Those schools are ranked #44 and #68 by Jeff Sagarin. Clemson, which hammered the Eagles 25-7 is ranked by Sagarin at #41, which is 23 spots below the Irish. NC State, who surrendered the aforementioned 480 yards and 52 points to BC, is ranked at #91.

The ND defense needs to improve. They really, really need to improve. They will give BC some success. But ultimately the Eagles will look more like the team that played Clemson than the team that played NC State.

3. Does anyone seem primed to have a Robby Parris-like breakout moment against the Eagles? If so, who is it and why?

Mike Ragone. We have been waiting for Coach Weis to get the multiple tight ends sets working in the offense. BC largely frustrated Kyle Rudolph (and Clausen) last year and can be expected to give #9 a lot of attention. Robby Parris is "full go" for the game (which amazes me), but I expect him to be a step slow against BC. We'll need another threat in the passing game to step up, and Mike Ragone is overdue.

4. It's been an and up-and-down year for Boston sports. After a strong start, the Red Sox folded in the second half of the year. The Patriots, meanwhile, seem to be on the upswing after a 59-0 dismantling of Tennessee. For their part, Boston College has seemed as though their season could go either way. Ultimately, will the Eagles be the Sox or the Pats?

Honestly, who cares about Boston Sports? Boston College is in something of a rebuilding year. If they do as well as the Red Sox (a wild card team who were SWEPT by the Angels in the playoffs) they will be very happy.

5. While most Irish fans refer to BC as "Fredo", tell me to which other cinematic character you would compare the Eagles.

Why mess with a good thing? The sniveling, weak, younger brother of the Godfather saga is a truly inspired cinematic comparison. To me, the Eagles are typecast as Fredo, and I can't even envision them playing another role.


Conclusion: Enough already. Just go out there and put the Eagles in their place. Get your cleats on their necks and don't let them up. No need for last-minute heroics this week. Is anybody up for a little domination?

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