Thursday, November 8, 2012
Notre Dame represents BC's bowl game
By Jack McCluskey
No. 4 Notre Dame suppressed Pitt's upset bid last week. Can the Irish do it again at Boston College?
NEWTON, Mass. -- It's a one-game season.
After the Eagles lost to Georgia Tech three weeks ago, head coach Frank Spaziani told the team he had a five-point plan for the rest of the season. There were five games left, and the five-point plan was to win each game in a row and finish 6-6.
BC completed the first of those five points, beating Maryland to improve to 2-6, but couldn't complete the second, losing to Wake Forest and falling out of contention for a bowl at 2-7.
"It's a 12-game season, that's what you start out on and anything else is a bonus," Spaziani said. "You have to get your mind into it, drill it down and play one week at a time."
So now, linebacker Nick Clancy said, the players are treating things like they're playing a one-game season.
"We're trying not to focus on anything else, because this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said.
The opportunity the fifth-year senior is referring to is knocking off undefeated, 9-0, No. 4-ranked Notre Dame this Saturday at Alumni Stadium (8 p.m. ET, ABC).
"It's a game that we all dream of playing in -- Saturday night, under the lights, on a big stage against our biggest rival -- one of our biggest rivals -- the Holy War, all that goes into it," true freshman running back David Dudeck said. "There's so much energy and emotion on campus this week. For me as a freshman, to be involved in it is a really cool experience.
"They're coming in undefeated and we have the chance to knock them off. That's huge."
Spaziani resisted the urge to say that playing spoiler is the motivation this week.
"There's tremendous opportunities in every week coming up," he said. "It just so happens that this week we're playing an undefeated, ranked team. If you love football it's good to have the chance to compete."
As one might expect, the numbers heavily favor the Irish.
BC is 98th nationally in scoring offense, averaging 22.1 points per game. Notre Dame is second nationally in scoring defense, giving up 11.7 points per game.
The Irish are tied for 54th in sacks allowed, with 15. The Eagles are 122nd in sacks, with just six.
That last stat looks even worse for BC when it's reversed. The Irish have 26 sacks (15th), and the Eagles have 21 sacks allowed (tied for 86th).
Sophomore defensive end Stephon Tuitt has 10 sacks all by himself, good for fifth most in the country.
The BC offensive line knows it has its work cut out for it protecting Chase Rettig.
"They're gonna be big and physical, they're gonna be kinda difficult to move," sophomore stand-in Seth Betancourt, playing for the injured Ian White at right guard, said, "but we've faced big guys before."
Maybe, but outside of games against then-No. 17 Clemson and then-No. 12 Florida State, the Eagles haven't seen anyone the likes of the Irish so far this season.
With a losing season already assured, it would appear the Eagles have little left to lose.
The Irish may be an overwhelming favorite, but every underdog has its day. The Eagles can only hope their day is Saturday.
"We're gunning for them," Dudeck said.
Jack McCluskey is an editor for ESPN.com and a frequent contributor to ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter @jack_mccluskey.