Because we haven't played them in a few years, the Irish don't seem as familiar to BC fans these days. Throw in the injuries and roster changes and there are very few Notre Dame players who have faced BC. To get a feel for this talented team and perspective on Notre Dame's run for the playoff, I asked Keith Arnold of Inside the Irish a few questions. His answers are below.
1. Kizer hasn't really played like a back-up quarterback. What are his weak spots and do you think he is good enough to lead the Irish to a Championship.
Keith Arnold: If Notre Dame fans aren't surprised by the impressive performance of DeShone Kizer they're lying. He was outplayed in the spring game by walk-on quarterback Montgomery VanGorder, the defensive coordinator's son, and looked absolutely terrible—rock bottom as a quarterback, he admitted a few weeks ago.
But Kizer's most impressive trait has been his ability to be unflappable. Pair that with an elite physical skill-set—he's 6-foot-4 and nearly 240 pounds—and he's used his great football IQ, NFL-caliber arm and sneaky-good zone-read option skills to move the passing game and serve as the goal line and short yardage running option.
Is he good enough to lead Notre Dame to a championship? Good question. I think he's good enough to win out the regular season—and then my bigger question is about the Irish defense, not the play of the first-year quarterback, oddly enough.
2. I know that many Notre Dame fans dislike Kelly and think he cannot win the big one. Where do you stand on him?
Keith Arnold: A Notre Dame fan that can't appreciate what Brian Kelly's doing—and really, has already done—is never going to be happy. (A shock, right?) I tend to think (and I wrote it last week) that this is going to be the beginning of a really impressive run for the Irish, who have a loaded roster, some really talented young depth, and stability at quarterback that should lead them for three more seasons (at least).
Has Kelly been perfect? No. Did he rub people the wrong way early in his tenure? Some. But before he was immortalized and turned into the daffy and fun Dr. Lou, Notre Dame managed to run Lou Holtz out of South Bend, too. That didn't turn out too well. Athletic director Jack Swarbrick understands what he has in Kelly. The institutional arrogance that sometimes comes along with Notre Dame doesn't exist under the Golden Dome anymore—it's mostly relegated to certain subsets of alums and fans.
Can Kelly win the big one? Again—can't be sure until it happens. I don't think the Alabama game after the 2012 season was an indication of that. The Irish didn't have the horses then.
I thought Kelly's ability to out-maneuver LSU last year with a decimated defense was a great schematic victory. He also did some great things this season in wins over USC and the option teams, Navy (finally earning some respect) and Georgia Tech.
3. With Stanford looming, is there any chance Notre Dame overlooks this game?
Keith Arnold: I don't know if it's possible to overlook this game. The venue, the green jerseys, Boston College—an opponent that's pretty high on the Irish rivalry list, especially for fans. Add to that the leverage of the situation with a playoff berth on the cusp, and I'm more worried about the Irish being tight than looking ahead.
What really interests me about this game is figuring out how the Irish play offense against a really stingy and attacking defense. Notre Dame's offense line is hit-and-miss. They can key huge gains in the run game and then completely whiff and lose individual battles. And I'm curious if the Eagles can manufacture any big offensive plays against a defense that's really allowed everybody but Texas to make a handful of big-chunk plays. So far, they haven't been able to do that at all. Maybe Notre Dame will help open things up.
There are three-win teams. And then there's B.C. I tend to think this is the most dangerous version of this game—there's literally no reason for the Eagles NOT to pull out all the stops to try and steal a victory here.
4. What is your prediction for the game?
Keith Arnold: I don't name scores (would hate to let people confirm my stupidity), but essentially I just don't think Boston College can score enough points on offense to win this football game.
I'm not sure how well the Irish will move the ball, but I do think there'll be a big play or two in the passing game. But ultimately, it comes down to me seeing the Irish pulling away in the second half, more because the Eagles defense gets absolutely no support from the offense, not because of any great performance by the Irish.
I take all of this back if Notre Dame turns the football over early and more than once. Then it's chaos scenario and I actually think the Eagles will be a totally frightening team if they can get this game to the fourth quarter.
But I just don't see that happening in a stadium that should be mostly Notre Dame fans.