Eagles Land in South Bend

Boston College has enjoyed a dream first half of the season. For Notre Dame, until last week, 2007 had been a nightmare.

Sporting their highest ranking since Doug Flutie lined up under center, the No. 4 Eagles travel to South Bend on Saturday to face a Fighting Irish team that's finally in the win column.

Led by senior quarterback and Heisman Trophy hopeful Matt Ryan, Boston College is 6-0 for the fifth time in school history and the first time since 1942, when it opened 8-0. After last week's 55-24 victory over Bowling Green, the Eagles rose three spots to fourth in the AP Top 25 - matching their ranking from Oct. 20, 1984, during Flutie's Heisman season.

Despite the success, first-year coach Jeff Jagodzinski claims his team's ranking is unimportant.

"I don't take a look at the polls," he said Sunday. "If the kids do or not, I don't know. I really don't think a lot about it. It's really a fan- and media-driven thing."

Ryan went 24-for-32 for 312 yards and four touchdowns before leaving the game early in the fourth quarter against Bowling Green. He has four 300-yard games this season and has already matched his TD total of 15 from 2006, but much like his coach, Ryan remains humble.

"It's a good start. That's all it is," he said. "We expect to compete for conference championships and that's the goal. If you do that, bowls take care of themselves.

"We've put ourselves in exactly the position that we want to be in. We've won the games we've needed to win. None of those wins really matter if we can't win the next ones."

Oddsmakers from SBG Global  have made Boston College -14 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday's game, the over/under has been set at 46 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 73% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston College -14 (View College Football bet percentages).

BC also features an opportunistic defense, which intercepted six passes last week - one more than Ryan has thrown all season - to bring its season total to 16 picks, five of them by senior safety Jamie Silva. The team's strength on both sides of the ball impressed Bowling Green coach Gregg Brandon.

"That might have been the best team, arguably, that we've ever played since I've been coaching here," said Brandon, who lost to then-No. 1 Ohio State last year.

The Eagles also appear to be the best team the Irish (1-5) have faced this year, which may not bode well for a Notre Dame squad that opened the season 0-5 for the first time in the storied history of the program.

However, the Irish played their best game of the year last week at UCLA, upsetting the Bruins 20-6 to snap their seven-game losing streak dating to a 41-9 victory over Army last Nov. 18.

"When you're 0-5, everyone in the country is laughing at you," Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said. "The only thing you can do is do something about it on the field. I'm really happy for the kids."

Although the Irish got outgained by the Bruins 282-140 in total offense, the defense made up for it by forcing seven turnovers that led to 17 points. It was the most takeaways for Notre Dame since registering eight on Sept. 30, 1989, against Purdue.

"This is a big turnaround. This is a payoff. This is why we work hard. This is why everybody never quits for this moment right here," said linebacker Maurice Crum Jr., who had two interceptions, two fumble recoveries, a sack and seven tackles.

Freshman quarterback Jimmy Clausen threw for only 84 yards, but completed 17 of 27 passes, did not throw an interception and ran for a score.

This is the first meeting between these schools since a 24-23 BC victory at South Bend on Oct. 23, 2004. Although Notre Dame holds a 9-7 edge in the all-time series, the Eagles have defeated the Irish four straight times overall and three consecutive times at Notre Dame Stadium.

This week begins a stretch of five consecutive home games for the Irish, but the first two are against ranked opponents. Notre Dame hosts No. 10 Southern California next Saturday.

The Eagles face a tough road contest in their next game, an Oct. 25 matchup with No. 12 Virginia Tech.

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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