Run and Shoot: Revenge in South Bend?

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Revenge in South Bend?

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - In 1993, a last-second Boston College field goal ended then-No. 1 Notre Dame's undefeated season. In 2002, BC came into Notre Dame stadium against yet another undefeated Irish squad, then ranked No. 4, and handed the Irish a 14-7 loss.

But in 2007, it's Boston College that is ranked No. 4, is undefeated, and comes into South Bend as 12 point favorites.

It goes without saying that the Irish would love to return the favor today that the Eagles have handed them so many times in the past.

No one needs to be reminded of the struggles that have marred Notre Dame's early season, but BC's equally surprising (to outsiders, at least) success is only beginning to get national attention. The Eagles come into the game after their most dominating performance of the year, a 55-24 win over Bowling Green, but Notre Dame is coming of the first win of its season as well, adding some intrigue to what was beginning to look like a disappointing entry in the "Holy War" between the country's two most prominent Catholic schools.

The story of Notre Dame's dreadful early season - shaky quarterback and offensive line play, and porous defense - have been the keys to BC's success. Senior quarterback Matt Ryan has finally garnered some national attention for his gaudy numbers and heady play, while the BC defense has been dominant at times, ranking first in the country in interceptions (including six last week alone) and third in rush defense.

BC defensive coordinator Frank Spaziani typically lets his front four do the pass rushing on their own, but we may see him try to get early pressure on freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen, who has been sacked 21 times this season. With BC giving up just 49 yards per game on the ground, Clausen will need to connect on a few deep passes if the Irish hope to get anything done on offense.

Motivation for either team shouldn't be a problem. But if Notre Dame wants to hand BC a bit of its own medicine, they'll need a bit more than the luck of the Irish.

Keys for BC
1. BC has a tendency not to put teams away early. Letting the Irish hang around could give them enough energy to make a run at the Eagles.
2. Get pressure on Clausen.
3. Shore up the special teams. NOthing leads to an upset quicker than special teams mistakes, and BC's kick coverage has struggled this year.

Keys for ND
1. Get Clausen going early. ND won't run on the Eagles without a consistent passing game.
2. Stop Andre Callender. Matt Ryan will get his yards and touchdowns, but giving up big plays to BC's underrated running back could prove deadly.
3. It always goes without saying, but avoid turnovers. BC has forced 24 of them.

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