Saturday's Keys

Twice, Boston College has come into Notre Dame Stadium and knocked off an undefeated and highly-ranked Irish football team. In 1993, cringe, a David Gordon field goal on the last play of the regular season ruined National Title hopes for the top-ranked Irish. In 2002, No. 4 Notre Dame and its green jerseys put the ball on the ground seven times in a 14-7 loss.

Today, the Irish (1-5) have a chance to turn the tables on an Eagles (6-0) team thinking of playing for it all come January. If Notre Dame wins, you'll begin to hear that bowl word being thrown around.

Here are the keys to the game.

***Converting manageable, yet efficient pass plays: Swing passes and screens haven't worked all season, and won't work this afternoon against No. 4 Boston College, if the Irish can't get their passing game going over the middle of the field, or downfield.

The Eagles lead the nation in interceptions, but their secondary is vulnerable. They are giving up over 290 yards passing per game, ranking 110th nationally. If Weis can take a page out of what he did in the second half against Purdue, Notre Dame should be able to move the ball through the air. The slant was a huge asset in the Irish rolling up 377 yards passing against the Boilermakers, and we didn't see that route thrown last Saturday against UCLA.

Notre Dame's offensive line has been pass protecting much better the last two weeks, so freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen should have an opportunity to have a career game.

***Get the passing game going to open up the run: Boston College is the nation's third-best team against the run, and it's no secret that the Irish rank last nationally in yards rushing. They'll have to be able to move the ball on the ground, to have a chance for an upset. If they can't soften up the defense, it could become a debate of whether Notre Dame will finish with positive yards rushing on the afternoon.

If the Irish are one dimensional on offense, they won't score enough points to win the game against Heisman candidate Matt Ryan, and the Boston College offense that comes in averaging over 35 points per game. Notre Dame hasn't scored more than 20 points in a game this season.

***If you're going to pull an upset, you can't give up a special teams explosive: The Irish learned this during game two of the season, when Penn State's Derrick Williams returned a punt for a touchdown, swinging the momentum of a close game.

The Eagles have their game changer in Jeff Smith. The kick returner finished second in the nation in 2006 in the 200 meters at Nike Outdoor Nationals, clocking a time of 21.15 seconds. At one point last season Smith led the nation in kick return yardage, and as Weis said at his Tuesday press conference, unfortunately for the Irish he returned from injury last Saturday against Bowling Green. Expect Notre Dame to kick squibs and away from Smith like they did Purdue's dangerous return man Dorien Bryant.

Prediction: Boston College 30, Notre Dame 21: The Eagles will be able to move the ball all afternoon, but the Irish defense will hold for a few field goals to keep the game interesting. Notre Dame's passing attack will look good, but the offense doesn't have enough fire power to stay with Boston College. Top Stories