No. 4 Notre Dame (9-0) heads to Chestnut Hill, Mass., tomorrow for the next battle in the 21-year Holy War against Catholic rival Boston College (2-7). But Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly has spent little time on the history between the two schools, choosing instead to focus on the weapons at his disposal and making sure the program doesn’t suffer an unnecessary casualty.
Former Boston College QB Doug Flutie nearly led an Eagles comeback victory against ND in the 1983 Liberty Bowl, but BC went on to claim upsets over the Irish a couple times in the decades that followed
He already had once close call last weekend in a triple-overtime victory over Pittsburgh, which is also a reason Notre Dame players couldn’t care less about what happened against the Eagles in past decades.
The Irish lead the all-time series 12-9, but Boston College has been a thorn in their sides at times, knocking off a highly ranked Notre Dame squad on several occasions, including a 41-39 decision in 1993 in South Bend when the Eagles were ranked No. 17 and the Irish were No. 1. It was Boston College’s first win in the series after losing the first four. In 2002, the unranked Eagles again upset the home and No.4-ranked Irish, this time 14-7.
Junior nose guard Louis Nix doesn’t care about what happened in the past. Fifth-year senior center Braxston Cave, a native of nearby Granger, a lifelong Irish fan and probably the most knowledgeable when it comes to Fighting Irish history, said his teammates are oblivious to the program’s experiences against the Eagles. Senior tailback Theo Riddick isn’t to be bothered with bygone times. Senior linebacker Manti Te’o does his best not to roll his eyes when asked about anything other than this season.
“With the schedule we play this year, you can’t really sleep on anybody,” Cave said. “Every game is important and we’ve had some close ones with teams maybe the fans may have overlooked and thought we’d stomp them. Everybody is preparing for a Super Bowl when they play Notre Dame.
“I remember [Notre Dame] coming out in the green jerseys [in 2002) and walking around [campus] after the loss. I remember that game. I don’t bring it up. It doesn’t matter. That’s in the past; this is a different team. They’re just another team on the schedule; the history doesn’t mean anything.”
“I’m starting to hear about it and people saying, ‘blah, blah, blah,” he said. “We might lose, I guess, because 20 years ago they beat us when we were undefeated. I don’t see what that has to do with now. All [coach] tells us is that they’re going to try to beat us just like any other team.”
Added Riddick: “We’re focused on the things we can control,” Riddick said. “Our most crucial game is this week.”
“It was a learning experience,” Te’o said of the narrow victory against Pitt. “We’re better from it. It’s not going to happen again.”
The previous week’s performance was the only history lesson Te’o and Co. needed to be taught.
“That was 2002 and ’93,” Te’o said of Boston College’s devastating wins over Notre Dame. “It doesn’t really matter to me. What matters to me is what happens in 2012.”