Football comes to Fenway Park Saturday night and the fourth ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish could have a tougher time than expected giving over two touchdowns to Boston College.
A team that would be in the College Football Playoff based on the latest rankings could have a tougher time than expected vs. a great defense Saturday night when the fourth ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-1, 7-3 ATS) take on the Boston College Eagles (3-7, 4-5-1 ATS) at a historic baseball stadium in Fenway Park in Boston, MA at 7:30 ET in a game televised nationally on NBC.
The point spread at Pinnacle Sports has Boston College as a big underdog for this contest with the current line at +14½ with odds of -112.
Fourth in Latest Playoff Rankings
The Fighting Irish maintained their all-important fourth spot in the College Football Rankings with a 28-7 win over Wake Forest last week, but it was a lethargic effort with Notre Dame actually getting outgained a bit by 58 total yards. Given that the Irish have not beaten the same caliber of teams as the other three teams currently in playoff spots have beaten, it seems fair to wonder if they would be at their current Playoff ranking if they were not Notre Dame.
Meanwhile, Boston College suffered its sixth straight loss two weeks ago 24-8 at home to NC State before its bye. That drops the Eagles to 0-7 inside the ACC, and while that does mean that they are 3-0 in non-conference games such as this one, they have still been the winning college football pick just once all season vs. an FBS team with a 17-14 win over Northern Illinois of the MAC back in September, as they began the year 2-0 vs. FCS competition.
Looking Ahead to Stanford?
Not to take anything away from Notre Dame’s 9-1 record, but they are only ranked fifth on the latest AP Poll with the Playoff committee snubs from Oklahoma State ranked in fourth, and ironically the most notable game for the Irish may have been the lone defeat when they took top ranked Clemson down to the wire in a 24-22 road loss at Death Valley.
The Irish own that “good” loss but it is difficult to identify that one statement win on their schedule, and we are personally of the belief that both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma are more worthy of the fourth Playoff spot. However, there seems to be some politics involved here, not only because of the Notre Dame brand but also because of a bit of bias against the Big 12 from a committee comprised mainly of elderly members that are partial to smash-mouth football.
With all of that being said, Notre Dame may have a chance at that statement win next week on the road at Stanford in the regular season finale. However, that would also make it very easy to look past this 3-7 Boston College team, and that could be a mistake given that the Eagles have a legitimate defense.
Leading the Country in Total Defense
In fact, Boston College leads the entire country in total defense allowing just 236.5 yards per game and in rushing defense at 71.7 yards while also ranking fifth in passing defense and third in points against at 14.4 per contest! Yes the Eagles have those two FCS wins, but the defense has also stood up vs. stiffer competition inside the ACC since then and that unit is ranked fifth in the nation in defensive efficiency according to Football Outsiders.
As you could have guessed when you see such great defense combined with a 1-7 FBS record, the problem for the Eagles has been an offense ranked 127th out of 128 FBS teams with 276.7 yards per game as well as 121st in scoring with only 17.3 points per contest. However, this is still a team that rarely get blown out despite the dismal record because of that defense, and that could hold true again in this game especially if Notre Dame is looking ahead to bigger things.
An Underdog Series
Finally, the underdogs are 8-2 ATS in the last 10 head-to-head meetings between these teams with Boston College going 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings. Also, Boston College is 12-3-1 ATS in its last 16 games following an ATS loss, while Notre Dame 1-4 ATS its last five games vs. teams with losing records.
Look for those trends to continue here as the Boston College defense always makes the Eagles look attractive getting this many points and Notre Dame may already have one eye on Stanford next week, so take the points at Fenway Park on Saturday.
College Football Pick: Boston College +14½ (-112)