Columnists, Sports

Tuesday’s Take: The Holy War

The Holy War comes to Boston this week.

No, not the stuff that’s going on in the Middle East.

College football!

Yes, BU students, there is such a sport that’s played at the collegiate level each week.

I don’t like to think of BU as not having a team, rather I like to think of BU as being undefeated since 1997.

Growing up in South Boston, I had friends who were diehard Boston College fans, and I’ve learned to cope with that.  Since BU didn’t have a team, there was no shame in rooting for the bad guys.

I’d love to have football on our campus, though I guess tailgating would be hard. I’m sure I’d put up with looking over the field from StuVi enjoying a few adult beverages.

Competitive college football, like any college sport, often outshines the pros. Quicker game speed, more risky plays and the plethora of Bowl games can make college football a more attractive product.

So what’s this Holy War?

It’s Notre Dame and Boston College squaring off at Alumni Stadium a few miles up Commonwealth Avenue.

It’s one of the most sought-after tickets in Boston right now.

Notre Dame was last in Boston in 2010, a game in which both teams were unranked and the Fighting Irish knocked off the Eagles 31–13.

This time around, Notre Dame is ranked fourth in the country in the AP Poll conducted weekly. The Irish haven’t lost one of their nine contests this season. They held on narrowly this past week beating Pittsburgh 29–26 in triple overtime.

Notre Dame senior Theo Riddick has rushed for more than 600 yards and scored four touchdowns this season.

Most surprising perhaps for the Irish, though, is sophomore starting quarterback Everett Golson. In his first season, he’s thrown for 1372 yards. Moreover, he’s agile. He has rushed for 230 yards in his last four games, this after having minus-11 yards rushing through the season’s first four games. He rallied the Irish against Pitt, despite being pulled during the game, and scored the game-winning touchdown.

The Eagles will have their hands full this week.

And at just 2–7, they will need a bit of a miracle to bump off Notre Dame.

Last week, they couldn’t match Wake Forest who got out to an early 14–0 lead. BC only got within seven points before Wake locked the game up, winning 28–14.

The Eagles have a respectable starting QB junior Chase Rettig who has thrown 16 touchdowns this season, but also 8 interceptions.

Junior Alex Amidon has been Rettig’s main target. He’s racked up 67 catches for 1073 yards and six scores.

Will they have enough to knock off the Irish in the Catholic Bowl?

Since 2001, the Eagles are 3–1 at home against Notre Dame. So maybe the alumni coming back to see the game has given them an edge.

They had better hope alumni come to the game Saturday. Because, at this point, you’d be more likely to find a BU football fan walking down Commonwealth Avenue.

Notre Dame won the last meeting of these Roman Catholic colleges 16–14 last November.

This will be the last meeting between the teams until 2015, and coupled with the fact that BC is at home, I could see this being a close game.

BC is actually 2–0 against top-five ranked Notre Dame teams. They beat the No. 1 ranked Irish in 1992 in a 41–39 shootout.

In 2002, the setup for the game was the same. ND was ranked fourth. BC was unranked. BC beat the Irish in their house 14–7.

After last week’s narrow win, are the Irish in for a loss to their holy rival?

As a Catholic football fan from Boston, I’m torn.

But weighing the history, this guy doesn’t think so.

I do expect it will be close, but look for Notre Dame to improve to 10–0 on the season.

Any loss for BC, even if it’s in a sport we don’t have, is a good loss.


Mike Neff is a weekly columnist for the sports section. He can be reached via email at [email protected] or via Twitter at @mneff2.

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