Staring a 1-4 start in the face, Notre Dame responded with a 31-13 win over Boston College and hope was restored in South Bend. Sort of.
Notre Dame jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first 13 minutes of the game, which was a terrific effort, but there are 60 minutes in a football game and for most of the remaining 42 minutes, Notre Dame’s offense was strikingly anemic. They were able to add a field goal with just over five minutes remaining in the first half and just once in the third quarter.
On the plus side, Dayne Crist spread the ball around to seven different receivers and scored three touchdowns, including a seven-yard run on the opening drive, showing an increase in his mobility.
However, Notre Dame also gave the ball up three times, including two fumbles. One of those fumbles gave Boston College the ball on the Notre Dame 14-yard line. A better team would have made it a game at that point.
Notre Dame was fortunate enough to be dealing with a team without a quarterback. With Dave Shinskie benched, Boston College started true freshman Chase Rettig, who was able to make some good reads, but rushed throws early and completed just one of his first five passes for minus-one yards. He did settle in and completed four of his next five, including a 58-yard touchdown, but then left the game with a sprained ankle
Mike Marscovettra was ineffective and threw two interceptions that destroyed any chance Boston College had at a comeback.
Notre Dame’s defense was a bright spot, regardless of the Eagles’ quarterback situation. Partially because of the fact they were able to jump out to an early lead, the Irish were able to shut down the Eagle’s running game and force the Eagles to beat them through the air.
While it seems obvious that a team would not run as much when behind, the manner in which the Eagles were shut down was especially encouraging. Montel Harris, who had rushed for over 100 yards in seven of his last eight games, dating back to last season, was held to his lowest rushing total – 28 yards – since a September, 2009 loss to Clemson. As a team, Boston College was held to five yards rushing, the lowest yardage allowed by a Notre Dame team in almost 15 years.
The trip to Chestnut Hill was the start of a much easier stretch for the Irish, who played three teams in their first four games that are currently in the top 25. Pittsburgh is 2-2, but the two wins came against FCS New Hampshire and Florida International. Against quality opponents, the Panthers are 0-2, including a 31-3 drubbing at the hands of Miami. After that, Notre Dame plays Western Michigan and a struggling Navy team, then Tulsa. Those three games should give the Irish more time to work out the wrinkles as they continue adapting to a new offense and defense as they gear up for a difficult end to the season that includes ranked teams in Utah and USC.