Eagles Match Up Well to Notre Dame

Saturday's game against Boston College is a critical game for the Irish. Both teams are coming off disappointing losses and sit with a 5-3 record heading into this game. A look at the Eagles shows Boston College matches up pretty well against Notre Dame.

It's always interesting to do a little scouting of the opposition to find out how they've become the team they are. The Eagles seem to be a similar team to Notre Dame---they'll have moments where they look like they belong in the top 25, and then they'll have games where their weaknesses start to creep out and they lose games because of it.

Boston College's loss last weekend to Clemson probably tells the story of their season the best. The Eagles have had a good defense most of the season, and they held a usually strong Clemson rushing attack to just 87 net yards rushing. They also intercepted the Clemson quarterback three times but somehow found a way to lose the game….sounds like the Irish last week against Pitt.

Why did they lose? Senior quarterback Chris Crane had a bad day completing just 18-of-39 passes for 116 yards. The Eagles were just 3-of-18 on third down. BC amassed just 236 yards in total offense and scored only 14 offensive points.

Saturday's loss was the second consecutive loss for the Eagles as their other loss came against North Carolina two weeks ago, the only common opponent the two teams have played. The Tar Heels scored 45 points against a usually tough Boston College defense two weeks ago, and big plays were the reason why.

Carolina receiver Hakeem Nicks scored on passes from 43, 40 and 26 yards, and the Eagles could only muster just 40 rushing yards against a good Tar Heel defense. Carolina also picked off quarterback Chris Crane three times on the day, while the Eagles also fumbled once. Irish fans know you can't give Carolina a short field or it will be a long day.

The surprising stat of this game was that Boston College had surrendered just one touchdowns all season through the air prior to the Carolina game, but the Eagles hadn't played any good passing teams prior to that game.

What do we know about Boston College coming into this game?

The Eagles have problems at quarterback. Chris Crane has made some plays in passing game, but he's been fairly ineffective when going against better teams. In the past three games (Clemson, North Carolina and Virginia Tech), he's 62-of-113 (55 percent). He's thrown for just 538 yards (179 yards per game) and has thrown six interceptions compared to just three touchdowns.

The Eagles rushing attack also hasn't been as effective lately despite their season average of 150 yards rushing per game. In these past three games they've average just 82 yards per game, with a high of 120 yards last week.

In the past three games the Eagles have been just 15-of-45 of third down, or they're converting just 33 percent of their third down opportunities.

The bad news for Irish fans is that the Boston College defense has been pretty good this year. They've only allowed five passing touchdowns on the season, but have really only played one good passing offense. Despite only playing one good passing offense, they still have 21 sacks on the season. The also have 14 interceptions in eight games, another impressive stat.

The Eagles also have been fairly stout against the rush allowing just 106 yards per game despite playing some pretty good rushing teams.

The BC defense has held their last three opponents to 19-of-47 on third down, or a 40 percent conversion rate, which is a pretty good number. For comparison, Notre Dame has held the opposition to 35 percent conversion rate all season on third down.

Overall, the Eagles look to be a strong opponent for Notre Dame, but I'm not sure they're any better than Pittsburgh. Pitt certainly has the better running game, and probably the better passing game. The Eagles might be a better defense, but they haven't played many good offenses thus far in their season.

The Eagles do match up pretty well to Notre Dame. They have a pretty strong defense that should challenge the Irish both against the run and the pass. However, I'm not sure BC has faced a duo like Michael Floyd and Golden Tate, or a quarterback as good as Jimmy Clausen if Clausen is given time. And that will be the key in this game. If Clausen is given time to execute the offense, the Irish should have a good chance to win on Saturday.

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