Boston College's defense has provided one of the best measuring sticks for high-powered offenses in recent years.
Notre Dame experienced that in 2015, when five turnovers marred a 19-16 win over the Eagles at Fenway Park in Boston, and the Irish (1-1) face that stingy defense again today at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
“We know what kind of game it's going to be against Boston College,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “They were an outstanding defense last year. They bring a lot of players back, very gritty, tough-minded group. Speed on the back end. Experience at the safety position. Love to play man-to-man (coverage). Again, an aggressive group that likes to take the football away.”
In terms of yards allowed out of 128 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the Eagles have ranked ninth, first and 11th, respectively, in the past three seasons. This year, they've dipped to 54th, but Kelly expects water to find its level.
“Younger players understand the Boston College-Notre Dame rivalry, two Catholic institutions,” Kelly said. “It's OK to know the history and how they're going to play you, who Boston College is, the respect that you have for them, how they play Notre Dame.”
In 13 meetings from 1992 to 2004, the Eagles beat the Irish seven times, and Boston College won six straight games in this series from 2001 to '08 before Notre Dame bounced back to win the last five.
“I think from my conversations with the players, what I have seen in front of me, they're more closer to the (proper) mindset than they are needing the pep talk to be leery of a fired-up Boston College,” Kelly said.
Notre Dame will be plenty leery of Harold Landry, whose 22 career sacks are third in Boston College history. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive end was a second-team All-American last year when he set a school single-season record with 161/2 sacks.
“One of the best defensive players in the country,” Kelly said. “Very disruptive. He had a sack the other day against Wake Forest where he really beat a long-armed tackle underneath him. Landry is all of 6-3. He was able to bend, get underneath the hands of an offensive tackle, but first step is his ability to get off the ball. He's got a great motor.”
When the Irish are on defense, they hope to duplicate a solid effort from last week's 20-19 loss to No. 13 Georgia. Boston College has had a shaky start to the season, beating Northern Illinois but losing 34-10 at home against Wake Forest.
Steve Addazio is 25-28 as Eagles coach, in large part because they haven't been able to ignite their offense.
Anthony Brown is the current starting quarterback, but the freshman has completed only 11 of 29 passes for 119 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
“You go back and watch the film, and Anthony went to the right place with that ball a lot,” Addazio said.
“He's got a great attitude. We have got a great future with Anthony, so I couldn't be more fired up about him.”
Notre Dame at Boston College
When: 3:30 p.m. today
Where: Alumni Stadium, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
Radio: 1190 AM, 92.3 FM, 107.3 FM