No. 18 Notre Dame vs Boston College: TV, Time, Preview & Predictions
Despite being in the Midwest, in northern Indiana and not too far from a Great Lake, Notre Dame rarely hosts games that are genuinely cold or pestered by snow. Its most famous occasion, the 1992 “Snow Bowl” victory against No. 22 Penn State featured 30-degree temperatures and barely any measurable snowfall.
That last-minute win came three decades ago this week, making this afternoon’s approximation of it fitting. The No. 18 Irish (7-3) will be facing a lesser foe in Boston College (3-7) but in weather more appropriate of a snow globe description.
“We’re going to play outside, dress warm and go play,” head coach Marcus Freeman said Thursday. “If you try to be a tough guy, there is no such thing as cold tough guys, and you better be a warm tough guy. Make sure you dress appropriately.”
In other words, mid-20 degree temperatures and about an inch of snow expected throughout the day, mostly in the afternoon, is not bad weather as long as you don’t wear bad clothes.
Many Notre Dame opponents might flinch in such an environment. A thought back to the 2010 Sun Bowl comes to mind. But the Eagles should not be such a foe, even with more than five inches of snow greeting their arrival on Friday.
This will be the coldest game at Notre Dame Stadium since an Irish win against BYU in 2013 (26 degrees), if not longer (Navy in 1991, 24 degrees).
Per Notre Dame’s sports information department, there have been only five snow games at Notre Dame Stadium since 1930, with the Irish going 5-0 in them.
RELATED READING: 30 Years of Notre Dame on NBC: The Snow Bowl
TIME: 2:30 ET. As of Saturday’s earliest hours, weather forecasts suggest the snow will not recommence in South Bend until midafternoon. Otherwise known as, right about kickoff.
Tuning in exactly at 2:30 is not usually a requirement. Pregame atmosphere buys the at-home viewer eight or nine minutes to settle in.
But this week, tuning in exactly at 2:30 will allow the viewer to watch the end of Senior Day festivities, with Notre Dame recognizing 25 seniors before kickoff. Just because a player is given that moment does not mean he is headed elsewhere after the season, but it should be considered a strong indication of such.
TV: NBC has the broadcast, though it can also be streamed on Peacock by clicking this link RIGHT HERE.
PREVIEW: The suggestion of snow and cold may elicit immediate thoughts of a rushing-focused game. Boston College cannot function like that. Every time the Eagles run the ball, they take off 0.127 points from their expected final score, ranking No. 115 in the country.
Boston College has gone through a litany of injuries along its offensive line to such an extent one might wonder what offensive coordinator John McNulty did to anger the ghost of Joe Moore. Yes, that is former Notre Dame tight ends coach John McNulty.
The Eagles have needed to effectively abandon their ground game, gaining just 3.66 yards per carry (sacks adjusted) and 92.2 yards per game. Though it upset No. 16 North Carolina State last week, Boston College rushed for just 31 yards on 18 attempts.
Usually, that “sacks adjusted” note is simply a voiced aggravation that the NCAA insists on counting sacks amid rushing stats, but in this instance, the sacks should also be emphasized. The Eagles gave up five sacks for a loss of 32 yards last week against the Wolfpack, so officially speaking, Boston College rushed for a net of one negative yard.
On the season, the Eagles have given up 39 sacks for 308 yards, including five sacks in each of their last three games. To be blunt, Notre Dame’s second-unit defensive line should bother Boston College quarterback Emmett Morehead more than Connecticut’s ever could bother Morehead and/or Phil Jurkovec.
Morehead replacing Jurkovec has not eased this Eagles problem. The former Notre Dame passer is working through not only multiple injuries but also the concussion protocol, making him unlikely to play today in his return to South Bend. A sophomore, Morehead has given Boston College some reason to be optimistic about the future, but he has not evaded the tackles in the backfield.
Of course, an influx of sacks can be a byproduct of an influx of passing attempts. Given the abhorrent state of the Eagles’ ground game, taking to the air makes sense. But this weakness extends further than that.
This is an inexact approach to this stat, but the sample sizes should protect the point. Boston College has thrown 380 passes this year. Add the 39 sacks to that tally, and the Eagles have been sacked on 9.3 percent of their dropbacks. By comparison, Ohio State has given up only seven sacks this year, No. 3 in the country, while throwing 298 passes. That is a 2.3 percent sack-allowed rate. BYU’s 11 sacks allowed, No. 17 in the country, on 333 passes equals a 3.2 percent sack-allowed rate.
Against the Buckeyes, Notre Dame managed one sack for a loss of five yards. Against the Cougars, two sacks for a loss of 10 yards.
PREDICTION: Delving into those offensive line issues is meant to make it clear that no matter the weather, Boston College would struggle to score against the Irish. Receiver Zay Flowers is among the best in the country and will, almost certainly, crack Notre Dame’s defense at some point, but aside from him, the Irish should have little concern.
And even Flowers may be mitigated. His singular dominance on the Eagles’ offense prompts memories of USC’s Drake London last year. Marcus Freeman gladly let London rack up the catches and yards, finishing with 15 receptions for 171 yards. The Trojans threw for 299 yards total with 27 completions. London was the crux of their passing game, and Notre Dame kept him contained even as he enjoyed gross stats.
USC finished with 16 points.
A similar approach could reduce Flowers’ impact today, while the Irish defensive line — headlined by a lengthy list of seniors in Isaiah Foskey, Jayson Ademilola, Justin Ademilola, Nana Osafo-Mensah, Chris Smith and Howard Cross — feasts as Morehead drops back more and more due to the impotent ground game.
Meanwhile, the suggestion of snow and cold that elicits immediate thoughts of a rushing-focused game obviously caters to Notre Dame’s offensive strength. As Jerome Bettis starred in the Snow Bowl, sophomore Audric Estimé may relish today’s brutal conditions. Snow and cold weather do not genuinely demand an abandonment of the aerial game as is broadly thought; wind does far more so. But cold weather does make every collision that bit more uncomfortable. With sophomore Logan Diggs and junior Chris Tyree supplementing Estimé’s payload, the Irish may find comfort in that discomfort where Boston College does not.
A combined points total Over/Under of 42.5, as of early Saturday morning, argues Notre Dame will not run up the score, likely falling short of 35 points for the first time in a month. (The Irish have scored 35-plus in five straight times only once, in 1943.) Shortening an afternoon in the cold while not running up the score against a familiar coaching staff would also argue against Notre Dame covering a 20.5-point spread.
Notre Dame 28, Boston College 10
(Spread: 2-8; Over/Under: 3-7; Straight-up: 5-5)
SOME MORE NUMBERS
— Irish defensive line coach Al Washington went 2-0 against Notre Dame as a defensive tackle at Boston College in 2002 and 2004.— The Irish have won 28 straight regular-season games against ACC opponents.— Notre Dame has won 18 straight games in November, dating back to its 2017 regular-season finale.— Senior defensive end Isaiah Foskey needs one sack to set the Irish career record, on the precipice of breaking Justin Tuck’s standard of 24.5 career sacks.
INSIDE THE IRISH
— Notre Dame’s second-half struggles vs Navy a triple-option symptom more than a continuing concern
— Notre Dame’s Opponents: A path to the Cotton Bowl, wanted or not
— Notre Dame’s Senior Day to be a snowy, festive honor, but not a definitive choice
— And In That Corner … Familiar Boston College heads to Notre Dame riding high but ailing
— How to watch Notre Dame vs Boston College on Saturday
— Things To Learn: The legacy of Notre Dame’s senior class will not be decided vs Boston College, but in years to come
— ‘Know that you are never alone’: Community, family mourns loss of ND sophomore— ‘The gold star’: How the memory of his late brother pushes Notre Dame punter Jon Sot— Winter storm warning hits campus ahead of last home football game— Boston College vs Notre Dame odds, picks and predictions: Irish land haymakers in first half— Notre Dame DE Justin Ademilola waiting to make sixth-year decision— Notre Dame Senior Day will be special for Ademilola twins— Revenue distribution resolved at CFP expansion meeting; Rose Bowl issue remains— UVA RB Mike Hollins recounts deadly bus shooting through mom— Former Navy football star Malcolm Perry retires from the NFL to resume military career— Week 11 bowl projections: CFP, New Year’s Six