Business Trip

Boston College has shattered Notre Dame's dreams -- big and small -- over the last two decades. Saturday night in Chestnut Hill will offer a healthy dose of reality.

This group has not been 9-0, so they have learned about how difficult it gets as you get down to just a few games left in the season.  Everybody can make their season beating Notre Dame. -- Irish head coach Brian Kelly in his weekly Tuesday press conference.

One program has made its season in such fashion often over the last 19 autumns, and they'll play host to the Irish Saturday night in front of a national television audience. (At 2-7, Boston College must have a lot of national appeal to earn the prime time nod, eh?)

The Eagles ended perfect seasons by Notre Dame in November 1993 (can't talk about it) and 2002 (painful, but fitting). They hammered the Irish in what was marked as a Chestnut Hill "revenge game" in '94 and ruined Senior Day in South Bend in 1999.

Intermixed, Boston College teams markedly better than the Irish won the matchup in 2007 and 2008, and pulled out two others when the programs were relatively even in 2001 and 2003. They added a South Bend upset in 2004 to facilitate the end of the Tyrone Willingham era as well.

In one of the biggest head-shaking losing streaks in program history, Notre Dame somehow dropped six straight games to the Eagles over an 11-year span. But the Irish have since won three straight in as many seasons; one big -- 31-13 in Kelly's initial season -- and two close, 2009 and 2011 in South Bend, the first under former head coach Charlie Weis, and last year's nail-biter with the Irish staked as 24-point favorites in a 16-14 snooze-fest that included 17 points and about as many total claps from the sell-out crowd.

Saturday night will look nothing like last year's contest.

It will in no way resemble last week's win over Pittsburgh, or a home scare vs. Brigham Young prior, or an escape vs. Purdue to open the home slate, either.

Notre Dame takes to the road this week. Its were they take care of business under the new regime.

Kelly's Irish have won by 40, 17, 38, and 17 away from home this season. They've forged an identity on the road that's escaped the program at home over the vast majority of the last, well, 20 seasons.

But that road warrior mentality isn't the impetus for my forthcoming prediction. Rather, the Boston College program that Irish fans have grudgingly accepted as a threat isn't present in 2012.

Gone is the Eagles dedicated, power rushing game (118th of 124 FBS teams). Gone too is a rush defense that annually made life difficult on opponents (116th). Gone from recent editions is ring-leader and all-star linebacker Luke Kuechly, veteran safety Donnie Fletcher, top-notch running back Montel Harris, and a trio of assistant coaches: Ryan Day, Dave Brock, and Ben Sirmans.

Gone, too, it seems, is the proverbial chip that resided on the Eagles collective shoulder every time the Irish or any other favored foe set up on the opposite sideline.

The Eagles don't pressure the quarterback (six sacks this fall -- tied for last in the nation) or put opposing offenses behind schedule with a stout rush defense. Normally a team strength, Boston College has totaled just 31 tackles for loss in nine games, second-to-last in the nation.

Notre Dame conversely brings 60 minutes of pressure with the nation's best front four and runs the ball better than any team at the program since the turn of the century.

Saturday's hosts have won four games vs. FBS programs since the beginning of 2011, and two of those four were against Maryland, including 20-17 at home last week...Maryland currently has a linebacker at quarterback.

If the Eagles have a 2012 silver lining its in their offense's performance in home games, scoring 32, then 31 points in losses vs. Miami and Clemson.

Miami's defense ranks 82nd; Clemson's 44th. Notre Dame's?


The formerly proud Boston College program that ruined too many Irish seasons, coaching regimes, and fall Saturdays to count is on hiatus. That group will be nowhere to be found Saturday night.

Look for the Eagles to play their best, but for Notre Dame to do the same.

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