BOSTON (CBS) — A disappointing season is winding down for the Boston College Eagles, but Saturday night’s game with Notre Dame offers a chance to play spoiler against one of their biggest rivals.
The Fighting Irish come into Saturday night’s tilt 9-1 and ranked fifth in the country, fighting to claim a spot in the college football playoff. Since they will not be heading to a bowl game themselves this season, a chance to end Notre Dame’s fight for the final four is the next best thing for Boston College.
“When you come out and have an opportunity to beat a nationally ranked team, it’s going to give you a lift. It would mean the world,” BC head coach Steve Addazio said on Thursday night’s 30-minute edition of Inside BC Football on myTV38. “It would take a little sting out of a tough year and give a great jolt to a young football team building towards the future.”
“The next game is always the biggest. It makes it a little sweeter that it’s Notre Dame,” said senior linebacker Steven Daniels, who had eight tackles as a freshman in a 2012 loss to the Irish at Alumnia Stadium.
Notre Dame holds a 13-9 overall edge against Boston College, and has won the last four meetings between the two schools. BC won six straight against the Irish from 2001-08, and they’re hoping to start another streak Saturday night.
“It’s a great opportunity to knock them off so they don’t get to the playoff. It just heightens the game for us,” said fifth-year senior offensive lineman Harris Williams. “Growing up a Boston kid, I never really had any great feelings towards Notre Dame. Playing these guys, knowing the heightened rivalry, the guys before me and what they put on the field — I want to come out and have a great game for them and the guys next to me.”
And that heightened angst for the game is just the rivalry itself. Factor in that these kids will get to play a football game at Fenway Park — the first in 47 years — and it adds a whole new element of greatness to the game.
“It’s crazy; that brings so much more passion and energy behind it,” said Eagles junior defensive back Justin Simmons. “Just to play a football game in there, it means a lot. Emotions are high and I can’t wait.”
For Williams, who grew up in Lynn, he always envisioned himself crushing home runs over the Green Monster in left field. Now he is hoping to deliver a different kind of crushing hits on Saturday.
“Now I get to hit people instead of hit baseballs,” he joked.
The game is part of Notre Dame’s “Shamrock Series,” so they’re actually the home team. Their logos adorn the end zones and have taken over the Green Monster, which is a little odd for the Eagles, whose campus is just a few minutes away.
But they aren’t complaining. Boston College is just honored to be playing against such a big rival in such an unbelievable setting. Despite the seas of Notre Dame fans that will invade the home of the Red Sox on Saturday night, they’re hoping for a home atmosphere.
“It’s their home game; we could be flying to South Bend but we’re not,” said Addazio. “We’re going to change at home, hop on a bus and come play some football in our backyard. We’re grateful for that.”
As for their chances, the Eagles are hoping for a similar outcome as last season’s upset win over USC at Alumni. The Irish come in with a high-powered offense, averaging 36.2 points and 467.8 yards per game. They’re led by sophomore quarterback DeShone Kizer, who has thrown for 16 touchdowns and over 2,000 yards, rushing for eight additional scores. Kizer has a go-to receiver in Will Fuller, who has 16 receiving touchdowns on the season, and a great offensive line gives him plenty of time to operate.
Kizer and the Irish offense will be going against a BC defense that has allowed just 14.4 points and 236.5 yards per contest. Addazio is hoping matchups against Florida State and Clemson — both Top 10 teams — will have his team well-prepared for Saturday night.
“We’ve played a lot of good football teams, so this will be our third top-ten ranked team. We know that we can play with anybody, but the question now is about finding a way to win,” he said. “We have to play great defense, we have to be able to create some points and move the football [on offense]. That’s what we want to get done.”
As for his 3-7 Eagles viewing Saturday’s tilt as their “bowl game,” Addazio feels the same way.
“It’s a big-time game, so play it like it,” he said. “[If I was a player] I’m going to play my best game, I’m going to play relentlessly, and they’re going to have to drag me off this football field.
“If I’m a BC football player, I’m going to make sure I impact this football game on Saturday night.”