|The Newest Member of Irish Creed:|
Lauren Cook (IrishGirl10)
Sep 30, 2010
The Holy War: ND v. BC
Irish Creed would like to welcome a new member to our team. With experience as an accomplished writer and photographer during her time as a student at Notre Dame, Lauren Cook offers professional quality material and a unique perspective for our readers. Be on the lookout for her upcoming posts written under the name IrishGirl10. You can find Lauren's Bio and first post below:
Bio for IrishGirl10: Native of Hudson, Wisconsin; Notre Dame Class of 2010; Political Science Major; Former Executive Photo Editor, Photographer, and Writer for Notre Dame’s Scholastic Magazine; Aspiring sportswriter and sportscaster
The Holy War: ND v. BC
It often seems that nearly every game played by Notre Dame constitutes a rivalry: Michigan and Michigan State - relatively legitimate claims, Purdue – only from the Boilermaker perspective, and USC – well, it doesn’t get more intense than that. When it comes to our Holy War series against Boston College, however, the nature of the rivalry beast changes.
For the religiously inclined, it becomes a battle between the only two Catholic universities competing in NCAA Division I-A Football. For the brainy student bodies, it becomes a matter of Back-Up College and Notre Dream School (self included). For the glory-hounds, it’s all about possession of the Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl (once Head Coach at both universities) as well as the Ireland Trophy (created in 1994 by the ND student body – supposedly as a signal of goodwill and ‘friendly’ rivalry). But where these populations merge with the rest of society, via their intense, overzealous fandom is when things really start to get heated. Before we go into that, however, let’s take a closer look at the Holy War series over time:
Relative to other great college football series, the Holy War is still in its adolescence. The Irish first met the Eagles in September of 1975 at Foxboro Stadium, where they emerged victorious with a final score of 17-3. Notre Dame would go on to win the next three games of the series in the 1983 Liberty Bowl in Memphis (19-18), South Bend 1987 (32-25), and South Bend 1992 (54-7). From 1993-1994, the tables turned, granting the Eagles a road victory in South Bend (41-39) and a win for the hometown crowd in Chestnut Hill (30-11). Throughout the next four years, Notre Dame rallied and responded with four consecutive wins: South Bend 1995 (20-10), Chestnut Hill 1996 (48-21), South Bend 1997 (52-20), and Chestnut Hill (31-26). In 1999, Boston College was able to just squeeze by with a 31-29 win in South Bend. The next year, the Irish reclaimed their dignity at home with a 28-16 win. From 2001-2004, and following a two-year break, 2007-2008, Boston College made a run for series dominance with 6 consecutive wins evenly divided between Alumni and Notre Dame Stadiums. Thankfully, just in time for my senior year, the Irish broke a 9-9 tie in the series record with a 20-16 home victory. Currently, Notre Dame leads the rivalry with a highly tenuous 10-9 record. They also lead in overall points, 486 to the Eagle’s 394.
That brings us to 2010 and this Saturday’s ESPN primetime game in Chestnut Hill. Both teams are desperate to prove themselves to a doubting public and they’re ready to do whatever it takes to leave with the win. In the case of Notre Dame, after defeating Purdue in their first game under new head coach Brian Kelly, the Irish have consecutively fallen to Michigan, Michigan State, and Stanford (ranked 24, 19, 9 respectively by AP as of week 5), leaving them with an extremely disappointing record of 1-3. On the other hand you have Boston College, who, despite beginning the season with victories over unranked teams Kent State and Weber State, fell scoreless in response to Virginia Tech (also unranked) last week, leaving them 2-1 overall. For the players, coaches, and the fans, this Saturday signifies a huge turning point in this year’s season as well as the rivalry, but also the future of two teams. As, both are experiencing the growing pains that accompany staff changes, volatile depth charts, injuries, and young players.
In a press conference this past Tuesday, Coach Kelly addressed concerns over minor changes to the special teams depth chart (tweaks attributed to the failure of players to fulfill his staff’s ‘higher expectations’ for ‘dynamic’ kick returns), in addition to the continued development of an impressive, but inconsistent Dayne Crist, to which Kelly responded: “How do you get consistent? You gain confidence. When he’s confident now, he’s really, really good. He loses a little bit of confidence at times, that’s where we’re working.” Referring to the Eagle’s defensive capabilities, Kelly commented on the challenges that players Herzlich, Kuechly, and Pierre Louis represent with their strong abilities against the rush. In an interview this past Wednesday, Dayne Crist responded to concerns about B.C.’s defense by stressing his plan “to be prepared for everything and be patient as an offense in general and just go and play our game and play aggressively.”
As for the defensive side of Notre Dame’s performance against Stanford, Kelly strongly praised inside linebackers Manti Te’o (who tallied a team-leading 21 tackles) and Carlo Calabrese. Kelly emphasized “the difference between playing hard and playing with that will, that tenacity, that attitude of I'm going to just lay it on the line,” which, besides tackles, is Te’o’s main contribution to the team. With the uncertainty surrounding the Eagle’s starting quarterback for this weekend, the defense – though preparing for multiple quarterback options – has remained sharply focused on simply doing all they can to secure the win. In a Wednesday press conference with Manti Te’o, senior safety Harrison Smith discussed the low moods and silent locker rooms that have followed the past three losses, likening game outcomes to “life and death” situations and that losing “feels like the worst thing in the world.” Te’o agreed, saying “[losing] is the closest thing to dying.”
Although this Saturday’s battle is only one of many in this Holy War, its victory is more than capable of breathing life back into this struggling Irish team. Here’s one fan that believes it will.