Boston College, Notre Dame, renew Catholic school rivalry
BOSTON (AP) — Quarterbacks Brandon Wimbush and Anthony Brown are too young to have witnessed the heyday of the rivalry between Notre Dame and Boston College, the only two Catholic schools in the FBS.
Coaches Brian Kelly and Steve Addazio don’t care much about the history, either — they’re both trying to keep their jobs.
The Fighting Irish (1-1) are hoping to bounce back after a 20-19 loss to then-No. 15 Georgia last week that dropped them out of The Associated Press Top 25. After a 4-8 season last year, Kelly needs to avoid another disappointment like a loss to the Eagles (1-1) could provide.
“Both teams, Catholic institutions, have a lot of pride in playing each other, a lot of similarities in terms of our mission,” Kelly said. “It’s always been a hard-fought game, and we expect the same going on the road against Boston College.”
Notre Dame has won five straight in the series, which has come to be known as the “Holy War.” Before that, the Eagles won six in a row from 2001-08, crushing the title hopes of the fourth-ranked Irish in ’02.
Addazio hopes that the rivalry known as the “Holy War” will spark something in his young quarterback and overmatched — on paper, at least — team.
“Notre Dame coming into Boston College is a huge deal here, and we’re excited about it,” said the coach, whose team lost to Wake Forest 34-10 last week in one of the few winnable games on its Atlantic Coast Conference schedule.
“That’s always been the backdrop, right: two prestigious academic institutions that are Catholic schools. Both attracted to a lot of the same recruits, a lot of the same guys, and so it’s been that way forever,” he said. “It’s a cool rivalry. It’s a cool deal, and something certainly our players look forward to.”
Here are some other things to look for in Saturday’s game:
Addazio left no suspense about his quarterback, saying on Monday that Brown would be back in the starting lineup despite being pulled last week after his third interception against Wake Forest.
“Anthony’s ready to rock and roll,” Addazio said. “He’s our quarterback, and we’re looking to him to get going.”
Darius Wade, who has been a backup all four years at BC, remains in that role, ready to step in if the freshman falters again.
Like Brown, Wimbush made his second career start last week. But the Fighting Irish signal-caller is a junior who played two games as a freshman before dropping to the third string in 2016.
After throwing for 184 yards and two touchdowns and running for 106 yards and another score against Temple, Wimbush accounted for just 210 yards passing and 1 net yard rushing against the Bulldogs. Kelly said it was a matter of trusting his reads.
“Don’t be indecisive. Be decisive, trust it and go with it,” he said. “I think that’s probably the biggest learning curve for all young quarterbacks, is that at times they ... think a little bit too much instead of just trusting it and going with it.”
Addazio’s team had four turnovers against Wake Forest, but he gave Brown a pass on the interceptions. Two were tipped by the receivers, and the coach said the other was his own fault.
“The statistics of that game were a pretty close game,” he said. “But when you turn the ball over four times, two volleyball taps, you hand 21 points over like they’re checkers, it’s going to be awful hard to win a football game.”
Kelly snapped at a newspaper reporter last week who pointed out that the near-miss against Georgia reminded fans of last year’s tendency to lose close games. The coach said his mind was on the 20-19 loss to the No. 15 Bulldogs and conceded, “I probably could have handled it a little bit better.”
Last year’s team lost eight games — the second-most in school history — seven of them by eight points or fewer.
BC running back AJ Dillon’s grandfather, Tom Gatewood, was an All-America receiver at Notre Dame, setting school records in 1970 with 77 catches and 1,123 yards.