My off-season series of “Notre Dame Football Firsts” continues this week with the first meeting between Notre Dame and Boston College, 1975
So far I’ve covered USC, Stanford, Navy, Purdue, the first Spring Game at Notre Dame, Michigan State, Pitt, Army, Northwestern, and Michigan. This week I’m going to take a look back at Notre Dame’s first matchup against Boston College in 1975.
Notre Dame and Boston College have played each other 26 times with Notre Dame winning 17, and Boston College winning 9. The largest margin of victory for Notre Dame was 54-7 in 1992, and the largest margin of victory for Boston College was 30-11 in 1994. Notre Dame’s longest win streak is 8 (2009-2022), and Boston College’s longest win streak is 6 (2001-2008). The two teams played for the first time on September 15th, 1975 in Foxboro, MA, and Notre Dame won by a score of 17-3.
Here is an excerpt from the Scholastic’s 1975 Notre Dame Football Review, written by Joe Schroer:
Before the largest crowd ever to witness a Boston College home football game and a nationally televised audience at Schaefer Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, the 1975 edition of the Fighting Irish opened up its season against a powerful Boston College team. This game had particular significance in that this was Dan Devine’s Notre Dame coaching debut. The task before Devine was awesome. Through graduation, the Irish lost man of last year’s offensive stars and defensive backfield. this rebuilding was placed squarely on the shoulders of Devine.
The game was closer than it would seem from the score 17-3 in favor of the Irish. But 14 of the Irish points came late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter. This was more than enough with the superb job turned in by the Notre Dame defense, lead by senior Steve Niehaus who had eight tackles and two assists. Boston College could gain on 207 total yards in the game with 107 of these accounted for by BC running back Glen Capriola in 15 rushing attempts. The Irish, on the other hand, ground out 242 yards with freshman Jim Hunter amassing 95 yards in 24 carries. In addition, Rick Slager completed seven passes in 12 attempts for 72 yards.
It had to be a gratifying victory for Dan Devine who said that he was relatively pleased with the win. Boston College was well prepared and up for the game. He added the game put burdens on the young people on the team. Coach Yonto echoed Devine in saying that the team was a little tight and anxious at the start of the game because of their age. “As the season progresses,” he added, “we’ll be all right.”
It seemed that the Irish had already gotten on the right track with the defense limiting Boston College to only 76 yards in the second half. Besides Niehaus with his tackles, other defensive stars were Ross Browner, Jim Stock and Doug Becker, each with seven. “It felt great to be back and even though it was hectic,” said a happy Ross Browner after the game. He said that Boston College had a good team which would have been part of the reason for the Irish’s late start. But the team did not quit. Steve Quehl similarly voiced his feelings as ecstatic. “This is a real team; there are no factions. We’re all young, but we’re growing up.” He added, “At the start everyone was extremely nervous, but after the first series, things started settling down.” Mark McLane noted that, “We were stopping ourselves each time with a loss, which is something we cannot afford.” However, he said that the game gave the team a lot of confidence because they came through under a lot of pressure with poise.
After this first Irish victory, the squad gave the appearance that they could play together under Head Coach Devine and were confident of a good season.
For more of the game summary, check out page 7 of the January 23, 1976, Scholastic Notre Dame Football Review.
Next week, Notre Dame vs Miami, 1955.
Cheers & GO IRISH!