Can Notre Dame bounce back today after last week's tough loss to Southern California?
That is the question most Irish fans are wondering as ND faces Boston College in South Bend. The Eagles have won the last six in a row over the Irish and have evened the series between the two schools at 9-9.
Head Coach Charlie Weis, who gained some keep my job points with the close loss to USC, 34-27, but is still not assured of another season at the helm, thinks that there will be no letdown for his team. How can you be flat when you're playing a team that's beat you six times in a row, he told the media at a midweek press conference. That'd be tough to do."
As Al Lesar, of the South Bend Tribune wrote earlier this week, the USC game was a ifs and buts type of game for the Irish. Some of points he mentioned included what if WR Michael Floyd would have been healthy. Floyd, with out doubt the best receiver and go-to guy ND has, might have made a difference. Floyd's presence in the game might have meant a TD or, a two point conversion.
Other if's by Lesar was if the Irish could have gotten two yards on two plays in their first possession of the third quarter, maybe the Irish could have went on to score a TD, or at least a field goal, but two attempts didn't get it done and USC got the ball and ND zero points. If ND had called a timeout in the final 30 seconds they might have a chance for a fourth try for a score and tie the game.
There are other if's mentioned by Lesar including the defense being unable to stop the Trojans's TE Anthony McCoy and the defense giving up a lot of passing yardage to a freshman quarterback, making him look more like a seasoned senior.
But the if's can be discussed and argued but the final fact is, ND lost its eighth straight to USC and Weis again failed to win a big game.
Today the Irish face the Eagles who enter at 5-2. The Eagles are tough to figure. BC lost to a so-so Clemson team, then soundly whips North Carolina State. In between are wins over some light" opponents and some very good ones.
The BC wins have been over Northeastern (54-0), Kent State (34-7), Wake Forest (27-24), Florida State (28-21) and NC State (52-20). The two losses were to Clemson (25-7) and Virginia Tech (48-14).
BC has a local connection. Starting QB David Shinskie is a 25-year-old freshman who walked into the starting role after playing minor league baseball. Shinskie was starting QB for Mt. Carmel High and led them to a 41-6 record in four years, earning first-team AP all-state honors as a senior. In his senior year he led Mt. Carmel to a 15-0 record and a Class AA state championship.
After graduating from Mt. Carmel, Shinkie turned down football offers and took a baseball contract with Toronto Blue Jays. He pitched for the Jays' Class AA team the New Hampshire Fisher Cats this past summer. His 4.61 career ERA and a 24-30 record meant he was not going to Triple A ball. He visited Pittsburgh, Rutgers before deciding on BC.
So far this year, Shinkie has completed 62 of 115 passes with four interceptions and 815 yards and nine TDs. His backup is Justin Triggle who is 13-37-3 and 229 yards and four scores. Top receivers are Rich Gannell with 22 catches for 266 yards and four scores and Colin Lamond Jr. with 17-368 and four TDs. Top runningback is Rich Montel with 134 carries and 807 yards and 10 TDs and Josh Haden, 58-234 and one score.
As I mentioned the series is tied at 9-9 with BC winning the last six. The game will be televised nationally by NBC-TV with a 3:30 p.m. kickoff. It is the 210th consecutive sellout for the Irish.
IRISH NOTES: Irish got some good news late this week. WR Robbie Parris, injured in the USC game and listed a out for this week, has been upgraded to doubtful for today and is expected to see some action. Parris did an excellent job in trying to fill the void left by Floyd. He had nine receptions for 92 yards against the Trojans. He was really missed in the final seconds....Although Jimmy Clausen couldn't get it done in the final seconds by getting a score, people should not be down on him. Clausen was the reason the Irish were still in the game and had a chance of tieing the contest. If is wasn't for Clausen the game would have ended as another USC blowout....Some game states. Clausen was 24 of 43 for 260 yards and two TDs. Backing up Parris was Golden Tate with eight for 117 yards and two scores; Kyle Rudolph with three for nine yards; Armando Allen two for 35. Rushing Allen had 12 rushes for 51 yards and Robert Hughes six for 17....Defensively, frosh Manti Teo'o and Brian Smith each had eight tackles....Weis is now four and 15 in games against ranked teams. That is NOT very good....Facing another freshman QB today in Shinkie is not something the Irish should get all excited about. In to prior games against frosh QBs this season the Irish defense has been terrible - Michigan's Tate Forcies and USC's Matt Barkley. Both were named Davey O'Brien QB's of the Week after their performances against ND....Here's another reason to worry about today's game. Clausen's two worst games in his college career as measured by passing efficiency has been against BC. In the two games against the Eagles Clausen is 33 of 66 for 286 yards, no scores and six interceptions. And the ND rushing attack against BC has been bad too. Just 93 yards on 42 carries in the last two games against BC....The USC game drew 6.5 million viewers to NBC, the most for a ND game on NBC since the Sept. 9, 2006. Through four games ND's TV ratings are up 26 percent over 2008....ND got a key commitment following the USC game. WR Tai-ler Jones, son of former ND great Andre Jones, announced he would join the Irish next season. Jones, 6-6 and 178 pounder, plays at Gainesville High School in Georgia. He originally verbally committed to Stanford but changed his mind after making his official visit to ND last Saturday. He's the 16th player to commit to ND. In seven games this year Jones has caught 36 passes for about 640 yards and 11 TDs. CBS College Sports Network analyst Tom Lemming, who attended the USC game, said it was an important catch for the Irish and the weekend was a big plus for ND. There were a number of high-profile recruits at the game. Lemming said the good weather, the intensity of the crowd, the closeness of the game were all positive experiences for the rescruits and ND in promoting its program....Among the speakers at a outdoor pep rally held Friday evening prior to the USC game were former QB Joe Theismann and WR great Raghib "Rocket" Ismail....At 4-2 the Irish can't afford to lose any more games if they want to get into a major bowl. Even if they win the rest of their games a major bowl bid would not be a given. Also, other top teams ahead of them would have to loose a game or two....ND has finally announced its 2010 season. Two openings remained on the schedule for ND announced the Irish filled the two slits with Western Michigan (Oct. 16) and Tulsa (Oct. 30). Both home games. ND started a 7-4-1 schedule scheme last year. Seven home, four away and one home game on the road. ND is following what almost all major teams are doing in playing six or seven home games filling the spots with some smaller based programs....BC has become a real nemesis for the Irish. When the Eagles and Irish first started the series, ND dominated it. But since Lou Holtz left, the Eagles have now taken command. My original pick for this game was ND and I'll stick with it today.