Greason: Boston College matchup has elevated importance due to Georgia loss
Elizabeth Greason | Friday, September 15, 2017
The Boston College matchup isn’t exactly the kind of game that stands out when you look at Notre Dame’s schedule. Georgia. Stanford. USC. Those are the names that jump off the page.
If Boston College stands out at all, it is because of the “Holy War” rivalry between the two schools, but certainly not because of the challenge the team will pose, as exhibited by the Eagles’ 34-10 loss to Wake Forest last weekend.
There is no doubt Notre Dame is a better team than BC, but that is the case most years. And yet, the Eagles are typically able to play the Irish close — too close for comfort for any Irish fan. The last time the two teams met in the 2015 Shamrock Series at Fenway Park, the Irish scraped out a three-point victory. In 2011, it was much of the same, with Notre Dame only coming out on top by two points.
It provides an unnecessary intrigue to a game that should be a blowout each and every time the Irish face the Eagles, which reflects poorly on an otherwise strong Notre Dame team.
But this year, don’t expect a game along those lines. Expect something closer to when the two squads faced off in 2012, the year Notre Dame reached the national championship game, when the Irish trounced the Eagles, 21-6.
And that’s not because the Irish are any better this season than they were in other years, because, while they are certainly improved from last season, there have been better Irish teams in the past.
It’s because Notre Dame lost last week.
The one-point loss to Georgia was a heartbreaker. In a sense, it was a game the Irish should have won. They led for the majority of the game and were simply unable to complete drives, yielding to junior kicker Justin Yoon on almost every scoring drive.
And while there were definite bright spots throughout the game — the Notre Dame defense proved itself to be an extremely unexpected shining star — at the end of the day, on the record, a loss is a loss. It doesn’t matter that the Irish only lost by one point last week. They still lost, and they are very aware of that fact.
A loss in Week 2 of the college football season can put an early end to your season if you do not respond properly, no matter who your next opponent is.
Allowing Boston College to turn this weekend’s game into a nail-biter will add fuel to the loss’ fire and give the loss the potential to snowball heading into Michigan State, which is looking to do some rebounding of its own this year, after going 3-9 last year.
However, the Irish can also use the loss in a positive manner this weekend. Against the Eagles, they need to prove that the loss to the Bulldogs did not deflate them.
This weekend will give them a chance to prove that Mike Elko’s stellar defense that was on display against Georgia was not a one-time showing, but is instead an integral facet of the new-look Irish team Brian Kelly has been boasting about.
It will give them a chance to prove that the offensive inability to run the ball and an altogether sluggish offense was due to the fact that the team was going up against one of the strongest front sevens in the country, as opposed to the squad being simply ineffective and inefficient in a high-pressure game.
It will give them the chance to prove that, if all the keys of the offense click at the same time, this team could be do special this season. Will it be good enough to top USC or Stanford? That remains to be seen, especially after last weekend’s offensive performance. But the Irish have the chance to prove that that offense was out-of-character and they have more to show off.
In terms of football, there’s nothing special about this weekend’s Notre Dame-Boston College matchup. The Irish should win by a long shot. But all eyes should be on Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, this weekend to see whether or not the Irish are able to bounce back from the Georgia loss, or if they fall back into last season’s familiar spiral.
The Irish will not lose this game, but a close call might as well be considered a loss.