Notre Dame-Boston College Preview

The Associated Press

Coach Brian Kelly isn't planning to publicly lobby for Notre Dame to be included in the BCS title game.

He's more concerned with the fourth-ranked Fighting Irish playing with the "head of a champion" and avoiding another scare.

That may not be especially difficult Saturday as Notre Dame tries to extend its best start in 19 years when it visits overmatched Boston College.

The Fighting Irish (9-0) haven't been undefeated this late in a season since winning their first 10 games in 1993, and they're a major contender to reach the national championship game if they win their final three regular-season contests.

Kelly, though, feels that campaigning for his team isn't worth the effort, especially with three other unbeaten teams - Alabama, Oregon and Kansas State - ahead of Notre Dame in the AP poll and BCS standings.

"If it helped, you know me, I could talk all day. If it really helped I would be on the stump for it. But it doesn't do anything," he said. "The only thing that does is winning football games, so I try spend all my time and energy focused on how we can get another win and getting to 10."

The Irish should be able to stay the course Saturday considering the opponent is Boston College, which has just one win against an FBS opponent. The Eagles (2-7), however, have a history of knocking off unbeaten Notre Dame teams, doing so in 1993 and again in 2002, when the Irish were 8-0.

Notre Dame has won the last three meetings, including a 16-14 victory last November, but it may be wary after overcoming a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit in a 29-26 triple-overtime victory against Pittsburgh last weekend.

"I told the football team that they had the heart of a champion in the way that they battled through triple overtime," Kelly said. "But now ... we've got to have the head of a champion, too. The head of a champion to understand that each and every week you're going to get the opposition's very best.

"Everybody can make their season beating Notre Dame. This is new territory for them and they're learning."

Everett Golson is certainly learning after being benched in the second quarter last week for missing reads and progressions. The sophomore returned to engineer the comeback, throwing a pair of touchdown passes before clinching the win on a quarterback sneak.

"Our quarterback needed to be out there mobile, make some plays outside the pocket - asked him if he was ready to go, he said he was and we put him back in," Kelly said.

Golson will now try to find some consistency against the Eagles, who have one of the worst defenses in the ACC, giving up 477.4 yards per game - 232.2 rushing.

That may bode well for Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood, who have combined for 1,147 rushing yards. Notre Dame's stingy defense, which has forced 18 turnovers, could also be in for a good day.

The Eagles have turned the ball over 18 times, including a season-high four in last week's 28-14 loss at Wake Forest.

"It's a big stat," coach Frank Spaziani said. "Certainly when you have not too much margin for error, it magnifies the problem. When we turn the ball over it's a serious issue."

Spaziani is hoping Boston College can find some extra motivation against Notre Dame.

"You have a high-profile team coming in with everything on the line for them," he said. "We don't get these opportunities often. We would certainly like to be a little bit geared up for them and get ready to go. It's a big opportunity."

Any chance of an upset will likely rest on the arm of Chase Rettig since Boston College is last in the ACC with 672 rushing yards after totaling 20 over the last two games.

Rettig's 2,556 passing yards are third in the ACC, and he's tossed 16 touchdowns with at least one coming in each game. The junior threw for 357 yards last week, but also was picked off three times to give him eight on the season.

Rettig has been sacked seven times over the past two games, and Notre Dame collected a season-high five last week.

"When we help him, he makes some good plays," Spaziani said. "He's not perfect, but he certainly makes a lot of plays. The more help we can give him protection-wise and certainly get the ball running, will improve his efficiency."

Rettig completed 18 of 38 passes for 170 yards with one touchdown against the Fighting Irish last year.

What to Read Next