If there is one weakness that Boston College football has above all others, it is defense. This unit has, for the most part, not had a good 2012 and the final numbers probably will not be too impressive. Notre Dame, despite being a Top 5 team, also has a weakness (if one can call it that), and it is their offense. The meeting of these two could produce some spectacularly crappy football.
First, the Notre Dame offense. The statistics aren’t bad across the board, but the bottom line is more meh than wow. As a team, the Fighting Irish are 61st — almost dead in the middle — in the country in total yardage (404.44 ypg) and 71st in scoring (26.67 ppg). These have improved somewhat in recent weeks, and not a moment too soon for them, because the games are getting more crucial each week.
Notre Dame’s run game is actually good. They rush for just over 200 yards per game, which is 30th in FBS. Indeed, their rushing offense is far more prolific than their passing game, in that it has resulted in 18 touchdowns (compared to 8 passing TDs) and nearly as many yards as they’ve thrown for with Everett Golson. This sophomore quarterback out of South Carolina has 219 rushing yards on the season but is only fourth in that category on his own team. Notre Dame’s feature back has been Theo Riddick, who leads the team with 610 yards.
They do not pass nearly as much as they run, but their offense has spread the ball out in that regard. In total, 14 Notre Dame players have caught a pass this season, but that’s nothing compared to BC, who have had 17 different players with a reception. Junior TJ Jones has the most receptions on the team with 31, which is about one-fifth of the total. Put that against Boston College, where Alex Amidon has 67 of BC’s 200 receptions, or about one-third.
The sum of all of those numbers is that Notre Dame’s offense is passable, but more one-dimensional (though they happen to do that dimension relatively well). Boston College’s defense, on the other hand, has had a very difficult year. They are now 109th in total defense out of 120 teams in FBS, allowing 478.56 yards per game. The scoring defense is 85th, with the Eagles giving up 30.89 points per game. The item that should be of most concern, however, is that BC’s run defense is 5th from the bottom, allowing 233.33 yards per game on the ground.
The gameplan for Notre Dame’s offense, as it has been for so many other teams that have faced the Eagles, is their typical: run the ball. It’s something they do particularly well, and stopping it is not something BC has been able to do with any regularity all season. Do not be surprised when Notre Dame keeps pounding the football. In fact, if that’s not their gameplan, it would be somewhat shocking. It’s not that BC is great against the pass, because they’re really not, but rushing is an area of strength for Notre Dame and Boston College should plan accordingly.
Notre Dame has the advantage when these two units are on the field, though it is not as much of an advantage as they have when their defense is present. The Irish are far from being Oregon, but they have been somewhat effective in certain offensive areas. Boston College, on the other hand, has been bad defensively in just about every conceivable way. The Eagles are going to need a big effort to hold the Notre Dame running offense down and give their own offense a chance to win.