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2022 College Football Data Preview: Notre Dame VS Boston College

The data story going into Notre Dame’s week 12 matchup against Boston College.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 12 Notre Dame vs Navy Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It gives and it takes. That’s how I imagine the future bards and scribes will describe the 2022 Notre Dame football season.

Last weekend, the program gave us a lot in the first half and then somehow managed to claw it all back in the second, hanging on for a 35-32 win over Navy.

While everything got wrapped up in one game, for folks watching and anybody who just looks at the post game data, it’s hard to imagine there weren’t two different games played by two different teams in Baltimore that afternoon.

This week, the Irish are facing off against a 3-7 Boston College team at home in South Bend. It’s the second to last game of the regular season for ND and we’re all hoping to finish out the season strong, even if not pretty. The Eagle’s appear to be wholly beatable by the Irish but the data does highlight a slightly more nuanced matchup.

So without further ado, let’s dig into the data.

Likely Another Low-Moderate Scoring Event

Through twelve weeks of action, Notre Dame has outscored the Boston College Eagles 297-190. BC is averaging 19 points per game with a high of 38 in Week 3 against Maine and low of 3 in Week 90 against UConn. The Eagles put up twenty-one points in their 21-20 upset win over NC State last weekend. Given these trends, we can likely look forward to another low-moderate scoring weekend for Irish football, which given the offensive situation isn’t necessarily the worst thing in the world.

Scoring trend and comparison through Week 11.

Boston College’s Offensive Overview

Boston College is averaging around 311 yards of total offense per game. Their season high of 431 total yards came by way of their Week 3 matchup against Maine and their season low of 155 yards came the prior weekend in a 27-10 loss to Virginia Tech. In the early part of the season the teams trended in very different directions but from Week 8 onwards, the squads have been pretty comparable in terms of total offensive yards.

Total yards trend and comparison through Week 11.

Improvements in Boston College’s Passing Attack

A big part of the Eagle’s more recent offensive success has been a product of the passing game. On the season, they’re averaging 250 yards per game but they’ve been holding steady at 330 yards through the air the last couple of weeks.

Passing yards trend and comparison through Week 11.

This boost of energy in the passing game can be traced back to BC’s freshman quarterback, Emmett Morehead. Morehead started to take the reins of the Eagle’s offense after the 13-3 loss to UConn and senior QB Philo Jurkovec’s sidelining for a combo of performance and injury reasons. We’re still not entirely sure on who the Irish will face off against on Saturday but my money is on Morehead. Through Week 11, the freshman is 58% on 138 attempts for 885 yards. He’s thrown for eight touchdowns, accompanied by 3 interceptions.

Passer comparisons for Notre Dame and Boston College through Week 11.

Low Octane Rushing Game

Boston College’s rushing game has been lackluster to say the least. The team is averaging 62 yards per game on the ground. In four of their outings, they haven’t broken the 30 yard total rushing threshold, including a total of -1 rushing yards last week against NC State. For an Irish defense that’s coming out of the twilight zone of Navy’s triple option offense this will be a big change but one that I’m optimistic the program will be well prepared for.

Rushing yards trend and comparison through Week 11.
Rushing attempts trend and comparison through Week 11.
Avg. yards per carry trend and comparison through Week 11.

Junior running back Pat Garwo III is the main driver of BC’s rushing game. Garwo III is averaging 3 yards per carry on 99 attempts. He’s tallied up 49% (296) of the Eagle’s total rushing yards. Freshman running back Alex Broome has also played a size-able role in the ground game, accounting for 33% (199) of the team’s rushing yards this season.

Boston College’s rushing details through Week 11.

Concentrated Receiver Corps

Senior wide receiver Zay Flowers is the star of Boston College’s receiving corps. Flowers is averaging 16.7 yards per reception on 67 receptions through Week 11. He’s tallied up 38% (921) of the team’s total receiving yards for the season.

Boston College’s receiving details through Week 11.

Opportunities for Turnovers

Boston College has proven to be pretty susceptible to turnovers, especially interceptions. The Eagles have lost a total of eight fumbles and thrown a collective 11 interceptions. Two of those interceptions were thrown last week by Morehead against NC State.

Boston College’s lost fumble trend through Week 11.
Boston College’s interception trend through Week 11.

Boston College Defense - Vulnerable to the Rush

Boston College’s defense is allowing an average of around 376 total yards per game. Their worst, overall defensive game this season was in Week 4 against Florida St. when they allowed 530 yards of total offense. During the last few weeks, both the Irish and the Eagle defenses have performed comparably in this area.

Defense (total yards allowed) trend and comparison through Week 11.

BC’s defense has been demonstrating more competency in containing opponent’s passing games through the late stretch of the season. In their last three games, they’ve allowed an average of 155 yards through the air, compared with an overall season average of 219 yards.

Defense (passing yards allowed) trend and comparison through Week 11.

While the Eagles have been getting better at stopping the pass, they’ve been going in the opposite direction when it comes to the ground game. For the overall season, they’re allowing an average of 166 yards. In their last two outings, though, both opponents (Duke and NC State have ran for 200 or more yards against the Eagle’s defense.

Defense (rushing yards allowed) trend and comparison through Week 11.

Final Thoughts

Boston College is likely bringing a freshman quarterback into the matchup, who’s done well but demonstrated the ability to make mistakes. The Eagle’s running game has been pretty nonexistent. Given these factors, I’m pretty sure most of use are confident that the defense can contribute what it needs to for a team victory.

Once again, though, we find ourselves placing much of our chances for winning on offensive performance. BC’s defense is struggling the most in an area that (excluding the Navy outing) the Irish have been excelling the most at this season. They’ve tightened things up against the pass, which is without a doubt the Irish’s biggest weakness.

I’ve made predictions on how ND’s offensive game plan will make the best of these factors and been wrong almost every single time. The best we can all do is hope that whatever they do it’ll result in a W. Cautiously optimistic but optimistic nonetheless that the Irish will walk out of Notre Dame with another close win, this week against Boston College.

Cheers and Go Irish!!