While discussing Notre Dame’s “rivals” usually turns into some type of screaming hot-take opportunity, it’s undeniable that the Irish’s date with Boston College in Fenway Park is a wonderful place to renew a “rivalry” that’s gotten a lot less regular.
From 1992-2004, the “Holy War” was an annual battle, pitting the two major college football programs at Catholic schools against each other. It’s a game that’s been defined by streaks—while Notre Dame leads the all-time series 13-9, the Eagles won six straight games and seven of eight between 1999 and 2008. The Irish have pulled off three four-game winning streaks of their own.
But the Holy War is also defined by the Eagles’ ability to pull off an upset. Not many Irish fans will forget the 41-39 loss at Notre Dame Stadium that ended the Irish’s national title hopes in 1993. Boston College also pulled off a stunner in 1999, capitalizing on a slew of Irish turnovers to turn Ty Willingham’s undefeated start into a green-jersey nightmare. If it feels like each Notre Dame loss to Boston College was torture, it’s probably because six of the Eagles’ nine wins have been by one score or less.
But quietly, Notre Dame has turned this rivalry around, winning the last four contests. And with Brian Kelly 3-0 against the Eagles, he’ll face head coach Steve Addazio for the first time.
Getting us up to speed on the state of the Eagles is Bill Maloney, the editor of the popular Eagle in Atlanta blog. He was kind enough to discuss the job former Irish assistant Steve Addazio has done since arriving in Chestnut Hill, along with expectations for a team that loses an awful lot of talent.
I hope you enjoy.
Let’s start at the top. Steve Addazio might have seemed just like a guy riding Urban Meyer’s coattails until he came to Temple and did good things. But in two seasons at BC he’s been a bolt of lightning into the program. What’s the perception of Addazio entering season three?
I am probably not inline with consensus of Addazio heading into Year 3. Most feel that due to turnover and youth, BC will take a step back this season. And the overachieving of the first two seasons gives him a Mulligan on whatever happens this year.
I also think Addazio overachieved in his first two seasons and think he deserves a ton of credit. (He’s been better than I thought.) However, I still think BC needs to be competitive this year and have a winning record. The schedule is soft and Year 3 is a great indicator for any coach and any program. By Year 3, the roster is mostly the coach’s own recruits.
He’s had a chance to go through the conference twice. The staff should be settled. Things should start to click by the third season. Why should it be different for Addazio? While young, I do think this team should be good and competitive.
For all the love that’s understandably come Addazio’s way, the road ahead looks mighty difficult. The depth chart is gutted, especially on offense.
How did BC approach the spring when it game to rebuilding the offense, and what are your expectations for the unit, building around a new starting quarterback -- maybe Darius Wade or (gasp!) Troy Flutie?
I think BC will be run heavy regardless of who is QB. Even with a different QB or new OC, Addazio wants to run the ball. So the offense isn’t really rebuilt.
My expectations for Wade are that he’ll be efficient and safe with the ball. All BC needs is for him to be a game manager and keep defenses honest with his passing. The spring seemed to focus on developing the OLine and giving Wade some reps.
I was shocked when I saw Boston College’s 4th quarter defensive stats (a very respectable S&P+ until the 4th quarter, when it drops to 112th.) What do you expect from Don Brown’s defense, and is there anything specific the Eagles’ staff has done to try and combat a really tough stat to win with?
I think the biggest change is trying to upgrade talent. Part of the problem last year was teams “figuring out” the blitzes and schemes. If the talent is upgraded, then they can get to the QB in the 4th or intercept that late pass.
It’s fairly noteworthy that this season’s game will be a Notre Dame home game, but take place in Fenway Park. That alone has grabbed some headlines, but nothing compared to what the B.C. athletic department is asking for in donations when it comes to securing a ticket.
Was there blowback to the decision to essentially charge $25k for a four-pack of tickets to the game?
There is always blowback with stuff like that, but in the grand scheme, it won’t matter. BC only has a few thousands tickets, so those were going to be expensive. If people really want to go to the game, I think there will be plenty of tickets in the secondary market...especially if ND comes in with a few losses.
From a Notre Dame perspective, it feels like every time these two teams play, one or two key players put together just an incredible performance and play a critical part in springing an upset. Can you give me one or two candidates for this role come late November?
It is a bit early on the BC side. I expect some of the young guys to be the difference makers. Sitting here in July, I will take a shot and say it will be (quarterback Darius) Wade and (defensive end Kevin) Kavalec.
Moving beyond the price tag, this has the makings of an awesome football game—two programs that are healthy rivals playing in one of sports’ great venues. Addazio isn’t shy about his connection to Notre Dame, where he served as an assistant under Bob Davie. It doesn’t count when it comes to conference play, but is this still the biggest game on the schedule?
Probably. Since we are playing each other less often, I think BC fans are somewhat moving on to other games. But for the casual BC fan this will always be a big deal. Throw in the Fenway angle and I think plenty of BC fans will care.