Notre Dame ran its record to 7-3 last Saturday with an easy 45-21 win over a very poor Maryland team at FedExField in Landover, Md.
The game did not produce a lot of excitement. In fact, some would call it down right boring.
Maryland was playing with a lot of injured personnel on defense. While the Terps offense showed some life, ND's defense stepped it up for the second week in a row.
The only bad things to happen to ND last week was that its streak of 195 straight pass attempts without a sack ended with the Terps getting three. The other was Stanford's loss to Oregon. With the Cardinal unbeaten streak over, the game next week won't get nearly the national attention it would have if Stanford would have been undefeated in hosting the Irish.
Head coach Brian Kelly was understandably happy with the win. He told the media afterwards, "Our players truly understand how to win football games now. It starts with our preparation during the week." He added, "They know that they have to be able to bring all three phases. We'll look to repeat that next week. That's the challenge to our football team."
Against the Terps, the Irish offense ran almost at will. Jonas Gray and Cierre Wood both had very productive nights. Gray ran for 136 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns while Wood had 99 yards on 18 carries and one score.
Tommy Rees had 30 completions on 38 attempts for 296 yards, two TDS, and NO TURNOVERS. Michael Floyd caught nine for 90 yards and a score. Also, Tyler Eifert had eight catches for 83 and a TD and Robby Toma, in the lineup for Theo Riddick, got seven for 73.
Sophomore Lo Wood got the thrill of his early career by intercepting a Terps pass and returning it 57 yards for a score.
ND look more consistent on offense and defense last week which is a plus. Inconsistencies have plagued ND all season. Week in and week out you never know which Irish team is going to show up.
Today ND hosts Boston College in the last home game of the season. BC enters the game at 3-7. The three wins have come over Massachusetts, 45-17; Maryland, 28-17; and North Carolina State last week, 14-10. The losses have been to Northwestern, 24-17; University of Central Florida, 30-3; Duke, 20-19; Wake Forest, 27-19; Clemson, 36-14; Virginia Tech, 30-14; and Florida State, 38-7.
The Eagles are led by QB Chase Ettig, who has completed 139 passes on 262 attempts for 1,588 yards, nine TDs and nine interceptions. Top rushers are Rolandan Finch, 611 yards on 129 carries and three scores; and Andre Williams, 489 on 108 and four TDs. Williams is a Parkland High School graduate. Top receivers are Bobby Swigert with 35 catches for 356 yards and two scores; and Colin Larmond, 500 on 31 and two TDs.
BC also has one of the top linebackers in the country in Luke Kuechly. Kuechly told the South Bend media that his dream was to go to ND, but was never offered a scholarship.
ND leads the series, 11-9. ND has won the last two in the series, but BC has been a real pain for the Irish over the years. It is no secret that BC considers ND its number one rival. BC has won three of the last four in South Bend.
The game will be televised nationallly by NBC-TV. A note, the kickoff has been moved to about 4:10 p.m. from the usual 3:40 p.m. at the request of NBC, which has the "Presidents Cup" golf tournament earlier in the day and which is expected to run to between 3:30 and 4 p.m.
IRISH NOTES:The "home" game last week was used by ND as a big promotion for the university. The giant video boards af FedExField blasted positive information about ND. The paid attendance was just over 72,000, about 10,000 short of a sellout. But not bad, considering it was a home away from home game. It shows the draw Notre Dame has on the east coast....There were plenty of local fans at the game from the Schuylkill-Carbon area. Three bus loads of area fans attended with one bus leaving from Tamaqua, a second from Pottsville, and a third from Summit Hill. The buses were sponsored by the ND Club of Schuylkill County....As stated earlier in the season, when ND was approaching six wins and bowl eligibility, the Irish appear headed for the Champs Sports Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on Dec. 29 against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent. If decided today, the ND opponent would probably be Florida State, but that can change. If ND wins today and upsets Stanford next week, the bowl picture brightens for a game closer to or on Jan. 1....The offensive line play, despite the three sacks last week, continues to impress. The Irish were 38th nationally in sacks allowed a year ago, they're 10th now. The running game has improved this year from 92nd nationally a year ago to 41st this season....Other improvements this year include scoring offense, 67th a year ago to 29th this season; and total defense 50th to 36th; and kickoff returns 75th to 22nd....The minus side is pass-efficiency defense 25th to 57th; net punting, 64th to 100th; punt returns, 100th to 120th; and turnover margin, 51st to 115th....Kelly said after the game the main focus entering the Maryland contest was to get a fast start. Slow starts have hurt ND this season Southern Cal and Wake Forest especially. ND was able to overcome it against Wake but not USC....Senior defensive end Ethan Johnson made his first start since Oct. 1, when he suffered an ankle injury against Purdue....Junior TE Tyle Eifert is one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award, which goes annually to the nation's top tight end. Eifert has caught 51 passes for 589 yards and five TDs this season....QB Tommy Rees and kicker David Ruffer were named Independent Players of the Week for their parts in the Maryland win. Ruffer kicked a career-best 52 yard field goal and hit all six PATs....Notre Dame was one of 24 teams to open 2011 with a 0-2 record. Of those 24 teams, only two currently have a winning mark - the Irish and Georgia....ND jumped into the Top 25 this week at 24....ND is a 24 point favorite today but can't take BC lightly. The Eagles will pull all the tricks out. They have nothing to lose with a 3-7 record. An upset of the Irish at home would make their season. ND, also, can't be looking ahead to Stanford. My preseason pick was the Irish, and they should win it, but maybe not cover the 20 points.