Exorcizing the Demons

November 20, 1993. The game will always remain in my memory and the memories of many Irish fans. The Irish were 11-0 coming off an awe-inspiring win against Florida State—a team considered invincible. The Irish simply had to beat Boston College on their way to yet another National Championship. 41-39, Boston College was the final score and something changed that day.

Since November 20th, 1993, the Irish have played 121 games. The Irish have won 71, lost 49, and tied once--a 59 percent winning percentage--not Notre Dame football. The Irish have gone through two coaches since that date, and they have lost all six of their bowl games.

Something changed that day, and the Irish haven't been the same since. The Irish lost their swagger that day and their own invincibility. Doubt crept in and remains a constant, hiding in the shadows, waiting for his chance to spoil yet another game.

Since November 20th, 1993, the Irish are just 5-4 against the Eagles. To the Eagles, this is "the" game on their schedule. To the Irish, this is just another game, and an easier game considering the five top 15 teams the Irish have played in their six games thus far.

We've seen Boston College ripping up turf in Notre Dame Stadium and taking it home as their trophy. We've seen countless scorned lovers rise to the occasion and "Play Like Champions " in acts of revenge for being labeled not worthy. We've endured their fans, and their crass idea of hospitality. When will the nightmare end?

Boston College took something from the Irish that day, and it's time for the Irish to take it back. It's time for the Irish to exorcize that demon once and for all. Can the Irish exorcize that demon?

The Eagles are 4-3 heading into this game and have beaten Penn State, Connecticut, Ball State and Temple, teams with a combined record of 11-18. The Eagles have lost to Wake Forrest, Miami and Syracuse—the only three decent teams they've played.

The Eagles lost last Saturday to 4-2 Syracuse, 39-14. Syracuse was able to throttle Eagle star running back, Derrick Knight, to just 51 yards on 19 carries, and Boston College to just 70 total rushing yards—a week after Syracuse allowed 337 yards rushing to Virginia Tech.

Still, the Eagles appear to be able to move the ball fairly well. They are averaging 403 yards of offense, 190 yards rushing, and 28 points per game.

The Eagles are led by junior quarterback Quinton Porter, and senior running back Derrick Knight. Porter throws for about 185 yards per game, completes about 59 percent of his passes, and has thrown 13 touchdowns with just five interceptions. Knight has rushed for 937 yards (134 per game), and is averaging an impressive 5.7 yards per carry.

The Eagles don't appear to have wide receivers that would scare an opponent. Grant Adams is their leading receiver with 20 catches for 276 yards and two touchdowns. Joel Hazard is their second-leading receiver with 19 catches for 221 yards and hasn't found the end zone this year.

The Eagles do have two tight ends that can hurt you. Sean Ryan is 6-5, 265 pounds and has 14 total receptions and four for touchdowns. Dave Kashetta has 13 catches on the year and three touchdowns. The Irish linebackers have struggled in pass coverage this year so this will be an interesting match up.

The Boston College defense appears to be average. They allow about 130 yards on the ground per game and around 200 a game through the air. They are allowing their opponents to score about 25 points per game.

The Eagle defense is led by linebacker Josh Ott. Ott has 69 tackles on the season and linebacker Brian Flores is second on the team with 56 tackles. The Eagles don't appear to generate a lot of pressure in pass rush with only eight sacks on the year. Defensive end, Mathi Kiwanuka, leads the team with five. The Eagles have given up eight passing touchdowns in the last three games.

The Eagles have also struggled in special teams converting only 5-of-11 in field goals and allowing two punt returns for touchdowns.

It appears the formula for success against the Eagles is shutting down Knight and their rushing attack. Boston College has been effective in throwing the football, but we think if you can make them one-dimensional, they will be much easier to defeat.

We can go into the key factors of this game but only one factor will matter—heart. The team that wants this game more, will win. The Irish have more talent, we believe, but talent doesn't matter in this game if the Irish don't show up prepared to play from the first whistle.

It's been 10 years since 1993, and the Irish have the chance to erase it all. The Irish have the chance to make a statement in this game. No one will likely notice, but they can make a statement to themselves—"we will not stand for this any longer." The Irish can kick off a new 10 years of playing old-fashioned Notre Dame football with a big win in this game. And as former coach once said, "it doesn't have to be close."

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