Keys to the game: How Notre Dame can get a Senior Day win over Boston College

Justin Frommer
South Bend Tribune
Oct 29, 2022; Syracuse, New York, USA;  Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Audric Estime (7) runs between Syracuse Orange defensive lineman Steve Linton (17) and linebacker Leon Lowery (16) in the fourth quarter at JMA Wireless Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

SOUTH BEND — No. 18 Notre Dame (7-3) tries to win its home finale, and sixth-consecutive game when Boston College (3-7) comes to South Bend Saturday. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. at Notre Dame Stadium and NBC will televise.

Strength on Strength: Notre Dame's offense vs. Boston College's defense

Boston College's defense is giving up more than 360 yards and 28 points per game and about as average across the board as it gets.

Where the Eagles have found success is rushing defense, having not given up 150 rushing yards since Week 4 before their game against Duke Nov. 4. Last week against North Carolina State, the Wolfpack ran for 200 yards on 44 carries.

It is no secret that Notre Dame's offense is going to try and establish the run with its three-headed backfield attack in Audric Estime, Logan Diggs and Chris Tyree. Boston College has shown the ability to limit teams on the ground and will need to keep the Irish from finding their grove.

Big days for JD Bertrand, Jack Kiser and Marist Liufau

Notre Dame's defense faces a 180 in terms of rushing offenses. Navy finished with 255 rushing yards on 46 carries, the most the Irish have given up all season.

Boston College is the worst rushing offense in college football at 61.4. The Eagles haven't had 100 rushing yards since Week 5 against Louisville.

Their totals since then:

Notre Dame linebacker Jack Kiser (24) in action during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Navy, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Terrance Williams)
  • 25 yards on 30 carries vs. Clemson
  • 56 yards on 23 carries vs Wake Forest
  • 76 yards on 30 carries vs UCONN
  • 75 yards on 28 carries vs Duke
  • -1 yards (not a typo) on 23 carries last week against NC State. Somehow the Eagles still won that game.

Big chance for Notre Dame's linebackers to get up to the line of scrimmage and rack up tackles.

Limit Zay Flowers' explosive plays

Wide receiver Zay Flowers has been Boston College's best player this season, as well as one of the most explosive players in the country.

His 921 receiving yards rank 13th in the country while his 10 touchdowns trails only Tennessee's Jalin Hyatt (15), Houston's Nathaniel Dell (13) and three players with 11, including two that Notre Dame has seen this season in Ohio State's Marvin Harrison Jr. and North Carolina's Josh Downs.

Nov 12, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Boston College Eagles receiver Zay Flowers (4) runs for a touchdown during the second half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium. The Eagles won 21-20. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Irish defense handled those matchups well, with Harrison catching five balls for 56 yards and Downs finishing with five for 32, but also two touchdowns.

Flowers will command all of Notre Dame's secondary's attention on Saturday and will be the key to keeping the Eagles' offense quiet

Notre Dame's offensive line needs to hold up

After throwing four touchdowns and running for another in the first half against the Midshipmen, Notre Dame quarterback Drew Pyne was shut down after halftime as the Irish were held just 12 yards in the second half.

Joe Alt during Notre Dame football practice Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2021 at the Irish Athletic Center in South Bend.

Boston College's coaching staff no doubt took notice of the Navy blitzkrieg that flustered Notre Dame.

The Eagles top pass rushers include starting defensive ends Donovan Ezeiruaku and Marcus Valdez, who have combined for nine sacks and 43 hurries this season. Notre Dame tackles Joe Alt and Blake Fisher better be alert.

Notre Dame's defensive line should create havoc

Not only does Boston College's offensive line struggle opening lanes for its running backs, but it hasn't protected the quarterback either.

The Eagles gave 39 sacks in 10 games, tied with Kentucky and LSU for the worst amongst Power Five teams. Only Tulsa, Colorado State and Akron have allowed more in college football this season.

Notre Dame defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey (7) in action against Navy offensive tackle Kip Frankland (68) during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Terrance Williams)

This is an opportunity for Notre Dame's defensive line to pin their ears back and get after the quarterback.

The weakest link is Jackson Ness, an interior lineman who has started at left guard and center. Ness has allowed one sack and five quarterback pressures over the past two games.