Week five of the 2010 season sees the Notre Dame Fighting Irish travel to Chestnut Hill for the annual rivalry game with Boston College. Maybe no road trip on Notre Dame’s schedule will be as heated as this game. Boston College hates ND, and shows it with a passion every time the Irish make the trip to Massachusetts.
BC finished last season 8-5 overall, 5-3 in the ACC. They fell 24-13 to USC in the Emerald Bowl. Still, it was another solid season for Boston College, particularly since a new head coach in Frank Spaziani took over when Jeff Jagodzinski was fired after interviewing for an NFL head coaching vacancy.
Against Notre Dame, the Eagles saw their six game winning streak against the Irish come to an end 20-16. Notre Dame scored with 8:12 left to take the lead then held off BC, intercepting QB Dave Shinski twice late in the game to seal the win.
The running game will be a huge strength for the Eagles. Junior Montel Harris broke the freshman and sophomore rushing records in his first two years and now has full command this year. He earned second team All-ACC honors last year and could be the best running back in the conference this season. No one else figures to get much time this year, but it won’t be necessary as long as Harris stays healthy.
Offensive line and the linebacker should also be very good this year as well. The offensive line does lose 1st team All-American center Matt Tennant, but return nine of their top 10 and should be much improved this year. The linebackers could be one of the best units in the country returning four guys who started last season. 1st team freshman All-American Luke Kuechly returns as does senior Mark Herzlich who missed all of last year after being diagnosed with cancer. Before 2009, Herzlich had started 30 games and collected 249 tackles in his career. If he can play like he did, this will be a very tough unit.
Quarterback will be a weakness until someone plays solidly. Dave Shinski is 26 years old, but just a sophomore after spending six years playing baseball. Shinski threw for just 2,049 yards with 15 TDs and 14 INTs last year. He was ok, but not great. True freshman Chase Rettig enters the picture this year and could give Shinski a run for his money.
BC loses their kicker Steve Aponavicius and both of their return men. Aponavicius missed just one field goal last year and both return guys played very well. If Boston College can find adequate replacements, they’ll be fine, but otherwise missing all those guys could hurt them in the short term.
Can Boston College find quality quarterback play? If Dave Shinski or either of the true freshman can play well, Boston College has the horses in every other unit to definitely contend for an ACC championship. Montel Harris is great, the offensive line is top-notch, and the defense is experienced and should be one of the tops in the ACC. If the QBs can live up to their end of the bargain, Boston College will be a very good team.
This will be on the of the most experienced and talented teams Notre Dame will play this season. Boston College always plays Notre Dame tough and the atmosphere at Alumni Stadium should be electric, if not venomous. Notre Dame must run the ball and contain Montel Harris. If they can do that, this could be a close game. If they cannot, BC will look to begin a new winning streak against the Irish.