Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 14, 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 40 of 55 NOV. 14, 2020 41 when Geoff Collins took the reins in 2019. Under former head coach Steve Addazio, a power running attack was the emphasis because of the presence of standout running back AJ Dillon and the lack of a premier passer. Last year the Eagles averaged 254.2 yards rushing per game — 1,685 by Dillon and 844 by backup David Bailey — and 176.0 passing. With Jurkovec under center, that has dramatically shifted. During the Eagles' 4-3 start, highlighted by lead- ing No. 1 Clemson 28-10 on Oct. 31 before falling 34-28, it is 268.4 yards passing and a meager 94.6 rushing (2.85 yards per carry), the latter rank- ing 103rd among 113 teams. Although Dillon is gone, Bailey is back, but he is averaging only 43 yards rushing per game and his 3.6 yards per carry are way down from his 5.7 output last season, with run- blocking a primary issue. Only once in the first seven games did Boston College finish with more than 90 rushing yards, and that was truly an outlier 264-yard result in 48-27 romp versus Georgia Tech, with Jurkovec's 94 yards on seven carries pacing the attack. THE 'L' WORD In the annals of all-time heart- breaking losses for Notre Dame, the 41-39 defeat to Boston College in the 1993 regular-season finale after the 10-0 Fighting Irish had moved up to No. 1 a week earlier by toppling No. 1 Florida State would have to be at least among the top three. It was the consummate definition of a letdown, especially after having crushed the Eagles 54-7 a year earlier. Such is the danger of investing so much physically and emotionally into one game, or the basic principle of what goes up must also return to earth. Brian Kelly forewarned this even prior to his team hosting No. 1 Clemson on Nov. 7, the week before traveling to Boston College. "If you empty the tank this week- end and don't have anything left for BC, they're going to beat you — flat out," Kelly said prior to the Clemson game. "There has to be a measure of emotional mastery here. … That's what we've been building up for, that competitive greatness on Saturday, but still understanding that there's a lot of football still in front of us." Coincidentally, nine years after that Florida State/Boston College gamut of emotions, in 2002 the Irish stunned No. 11 FSU on the road to improve to 8-0 and move up to No. 4 in the coun- try — and promptly lost to Boston College again the next week (14-7) at home. This is not just modern-day psy- cho-babble. Letdowns always have been a part of human nature and athletics, including three other of the most emotional wins in the pro- gram's history: • After the "One For The Gip- per" win versus superpower Army in 1928, head coach Knute Rockne's troops were whipped 27-7 at home the next week by Carnegie Tech. • Following the "Game of The Century" 18-13 win at heavily fa- vored, unbeaten Ohio State in 1935, 6-0 Notre Dame lost the next week at home to Northwestern, which was under .500. • The stunning 7-0 win at Okla- homa in 1957 to snap the Sooners' 47- game winning streak was followed by a loss at home to Iowa. Knowing there is a bye on Nov. 21, however, could help. ✦ GAME PREVIEW: BOSTON COLLEGE A week after Notre Dame toppled No. 1 Florida State in 1993, it suffered one of the all-time heartbreak- ing losses in program history with a 41-39 defeat at the hands of Boston College. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS Predictions Todd Burlage: Notre Dame 30, Boston College 24 Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is 6-0 against Boston College in his 11 seasons at Notre Dame, 3-0 in Chestnut Hill, Mass., and even 1-0 in Fenway Park. The Irish depth and talent advantage will be enough to overcome Eagles quarterback Phil Jurkovec. Patrick Engel: Notre Dame 34, Boston College 20 This is a classic letdown spot, and some of that may show up. If so, Boston College has enough of- fensive weapons and stability at quarterback to take advantage early like it did against Clemson Oct. 31. Even if Notre Dame slumbers into the game for a quarter, it should be OK against a Boston College defense that has improved from one of the worst nationally last year to average at best. Andrew Mentock: Notre Dame 35, Boston College 27 After a matchup the previous week against No. 1 Clemson, Notre Dame starts off sluggish against Boston College and is down by a touchdown at the half. The Irish come out looking rejuvenated in the third quarter and pull away from Eagles as Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book out-duels his former backup, Phil Jurkovec, the current starter in Chestnut Hill after transferring this offseason. Mike Singer: Notre Dame 33, Boston College 24 Emotions will be high for Fighting Irish fans heading into the BC game with Jurkovec at the helm for the Eagles. I think he'll play fine, but Notre Dame will get the road win, and Irish fans will continue to debate Book versus Jurkovec. Lou Somogyi: Notre Dame 31, Boston College 17 Notre Dame allowed a total of nine points to opposing offenses in the back-to-back road wins versus Pitt and Georgia Tech. The Eagles are slightly better than both, but still too one-dimensional on offense to pull off the upset.

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