ND Offense vs. BC Defense


This is one of those articles where I can see a clear advantage for one side over the other just by looking at the title. Based upon what I know about how these two teams have played so far this year, I’d be of the opinion (just based upon the games I’ve watched) that Boston College’s defense has been a better unit than Notre Dame’s offense. Do the numbers bear that out, however, and do these teams pose any new problems for one another?

Scoring and Total Yardage

Notre Dame Points Scored: 23.0 (78th in FBS)
Boston College Points Allowed: 17.3 (37th in FBS, 4th in ACC)

Notre Dame Net Yards: 426.25 (37th in FBS)
Boston College Net Yards Allowed: 309.67 (35th in FBS, 5th in ACC)

Passing Game

Notre Dame Passing Yards Per Game: 315.5 (7th in FBS)
Boston College Passing Yards Allowed Per Game: 238.33 (84th in FBS)

Notre Dame Passing Efficiency: 129.6 (63rd in FBS)
Boston College Defensive Passing Efficiency: 118.76 (46th in FBS, 4th in ACC)

Boston College has had a soft cushion at times over their first three games, allowing opponents to gain plentiful yardage. In spite of this, however, they’ve held opposing QB passer ratings to a respectable 4th in the conference. Notre Dame, for their part, looks to be a pass-heavy team: they’ve passed the ball 170 times against 117 rushing plays. Expect Dayne Crist and Notre Dame to go to the air early and often.

Running Game

Notre Dame Rushing Yards Per Game: 110.8 (99th in FBS)
Boston College Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game: 71.33 (6th in FBS, 1st in ACC)

Boston College, by a comfortable margin, has the best rushing defense in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and one of the best in the nation. The Virginia Tech Hokies rushed for an average of 2.7 yards per carry against the Eagles on Saturday, though they were without star running back Ryan Williams. BC rarely gets gashed on the run, thanks in large part to the exceptional linebacking corps of Kuechly, Herzlich, and Pierre-Louis.

Notre Dame has rushed about 40% of the time in their games, with predictably limited results. They’re near the bottom of FBS in rushing yards and have only two rushing touchdowns in four games. In their most recent contest (a 37-14 loss to Stanford), Brian Kelly’s offense made an effort to rush Armando Allen at the start of the game, but as it quickly got out of hand, the run was largely abandoned. Still, given how good Boston College’s run defense is, and how little they’ve gone to it so far (relatively speaking), I can’t imagine Notre Dame will waste much time on the ground.


Notre Dame First Downs Per Game: 22.5 (T-30th in FBS)
Boston College First Downs Allowed: 16.67 (T-33rd in FBS, 4th in ACC)

Notre Dame Third Down Conversions: 37.25% (81st in FBS)
Boston College Third Down Conversion Defense: 39.58% (69th in FBS, 6th in ACC)

Notre Dame Red Zone Offense: 79% conversions (T-78th in FBS), 6-5 TD-FG
Boston College Red Zone Defense: 100% conversions (T-last in FBS), 2-5 TD-FG

Notre Dame Turnover Margin: -3

The red zone stat seems misleading until you actually read the breakdown of the stat: BC has only let opponents into the red zone seven times, and though the opponent converted all seven times, the Eagles held them to field goals five of those times. 7 red zone conversions is actually the third-fewest allowed in the conference.


Boston College has one of the best defenses in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and are among the best rush defenses in the nation. Aside from a very lackluster first game (in which, against their weakest opponent, they ironically allowed the most points so far), the BC defense has played very well on the whole. The linebackers are excellent, while the secondary and defensive line have played better. Outside of a few issues they’ve had, I really wouldn’t trade this group for anyone. It’s a shame that their efforts are largely wasted by the offense, or so it would seem, but that’s a discussion for tomorrow.

Notre Dame appears to have a one-dimensional offense, and luckily for them, it’s not their running game. They pass at about a 60-40 ratio, and the passing game outgains the running game by about a 3-1 ratio. In spite of all that, they do gain a lot of yards, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into points. Further, the Eagles are good at holding red zone opponents to 3 instead of 6, which could further complicate matters for an Irish team that doesn’t score a hell of a lot compared to everyone else in the subdivision.

The only way you’re going to get anything done against BC, however, is in the air, and that’s what Notre Dame does, which you’d think would be to their advantage. If BC plays as respectably as they have in the last couple games, however, the Eagles would appear to go into this game with the advantage on defense.