Tale of the tape: Who has the edge when No. 18 Notre Dame battles Boston College Saturday?

Mike Berardino
South Bend Tribune
Notre Dame’s Braden Lenzy (25) keeps control of the ball to score as Boston College's Brandon Sebastian (10) tries to tackle him during the Notre Dame vs. Boston College NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019 at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.

When Notre Dame has the ball

Notre Dame is 59th in scoring offense (29.7 points), but is tied for 23rd in offensive efficiency, according to Pro Football Focus. … Twelve receivers have at least one catch for Notre Dame, and eight different receivers have scored. Backup tight end Mitchell Evans is still without a catch but he is five-for-five when asked to pick up the first down on quarterback sneaks. … Quarterback Drew Pyne has avoided turnovers in just two of his nine games played this season: wins over North Carolina and Clemson. … The Eagles are allowing 28.8 points per game (tied for 87th in FBS), but are tied for 35th in rushing defensive efficiency. They are 118th in pass coverage efficiency. … The Irish rushed 34 times for a season-low 66 yards against Navy, including five sacks allowed. Their only other rushing output lower than 130 yards this season came in the opener at Ohio State (30 carries for 76 yards).

Edge: Notre Dame

When Boston College has the ball

Just three defenses have fewer takeaways than Notre Dame (eight), but the Irish have climbed to a tie for 94th in turnover margin (minus-4) after recording five interceptions over the past three games. … Notre Dame ranks 39th in scoring defense (22.3 points) and 47th in defensive efficiency.  … The Irish have recovered just two of their opponents’ five forced fumbles. Only Arizona State has a lower total (one). … Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec, who backed up Ian Book for two seasons (2018-19), was still in concussion protocol and dealing with knee and rib injuries after being sacked 25 times through his first eight games. Redshirt freshman Emmett Morehead, whose parents competed in football, rowing and women’s basketball at Princeton, has passed for 660 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions while starting in Jurkovec’s place the past two weeks. The 6-foot-5 Morehead has been sacked five times in each of those outings. … Tight end George Takacs, a Notre Dame grad transfer, is tied for second on the Eagles with 24 receptions.

Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec (5) looks to pass against Wake Forest during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Winston-Salem, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

Edge: Notre Dame

Special teams

Brian Mason is one of just two special teams coordinators – South Carolina’s Pete Lembo is the other – to make the list of 51 nominees for the Frank Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant coach. … The Irish have blocked at least one punt in five straight games and have seven on the year, tying them for the school record with Heartley “Hunt” Anderson’s 1932 and 1933 squads. … The national record for blocked punts in a season is 11 by Arkansas State in 1975. … Speaking of the Red Wolves, grad transfer  Blake Grupe has missed a field-goal attempt in four straight games after starting the year 8-of-9. Grupe has missed his past four attempts longer than 31 yards. … The Eagles are 55th in special teams efficiency, 50 spots behind Notre Dame, and have allowed 27.3 yards per kickoff return, third-worst in the country.

Edge: Notre Dame

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After a narrow escape against the least-penalized team in FBS (Navy), Notre Dame meets an Eagles team that ranks 53rd in penalty yardage (51.7 per game). The Irish are 29th in average penalty yardage (45.1) on five penalties per game. … Marcus Freeman is 3-3 all-time (including bowls) in games decided by one score. … Former Ohio State defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley, 43, is in his third season (15-18) atop the Eagles program. Hafley, who spent seven seasons in the NFL as a defensive assistant, worked with Irish defensive line coach Al Washington on the 2019 Buckeyes staff. … Offensive coordinator John McNulty, a Penn State teammate of Notre Dame defensive coordinator Al Golden, spent two seasons coaching Notre Dame tight ends (2020-21) and remains a confidant of his Irish counterpart, Tommy Rees. 

Edge: Notre Dame

Staff predictions

TOM NOIE: Notre Dame 38, Boston College 13 — It's Senior Day, and stuff tends to go sideways on Senior Day. Not on this day for Notre Dame, which closes strong at home.

MIKE BERARDINO: Notre Dame 49, Boston College 21 —Isaiah Foskey breaks Justin Tuck’s career sack record (and then some) against a porous Eagles offensive line.

JUSTIN FROMMER: Notre Dame 35, Boston College 13 — Irish extend their winning streak to five games and send their seniors out on a high note. 

MICHAEL WANBAUGH: Notre Dame 38, Boston College 24 — The Irish have shown they can beat anybody and lose to anybody, the latter more so than the former. Better cross all the T's and dot all the I's in this one.