Brian Kelly was worried about a potential letdown following his team’s thrilling win last week against fourth-ranked Clemson University. But instead, the Everett, Massachusetts native watched his second-ranked Notre Dame football team pick-up its eighth win of the season as the Fighting Irish beat Boston College, 45-31, in Chestnut Hill.
With the win, Notre Dame improves to 8-0, including 7-0 against Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) foes while Boston College dips to 5-4.
Notre Dame’s Ian Book completed 20 of 27 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for a game-high 85 yards on 10 carries and one score. All three of Book’s touchdown passes landed in the hands of Ben Skowronek, who caught fives passes for 63 yards. Boston College’s Jaelen Gill led all receivers with 105 receiving yards.
Despite a slow start, Notre Dame truly gained momentum, as well as the lead, in the second quarter by scoring three touchdowns to secure a 31-16 lead at the break.
The Fighting Irish’s lead would continue to grow as the second half progressed, but the Eagles were able to reduce the deficit with touchdowns by David Bailey and Hunter Long.
Notre Dame retained possession following Boston College’s final score and drained the clock with five rushing plays, along with a pair of kneel-downs following an unsportsmanlike penalty against Maximilian Roberts.
As a team, Notre Dame recorded 29 first downs while converting two fourth down attempts. They also produced 557 yards of total offense while Boston College finished the game with 357 total yards.
Tonight’s win was Brian Kelly’s 100th victory with the Fighting Irish. He joins Lou Holtz and Knute Rockne, who have also recorded 100 wins or more as the head coach of the Notre Dame football team.
Both teams are off next weekend, but will return to the gridiron on Friday, November 27. Boston College will host Louisville at 12 p.m. while Notre Dame will visit North Carolina for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
Like many of our fans and friends, I miss New England D-III football. But as an optimist, I believe we’ll see our favorite teams and student-athletes back on the gridiron at this time next year vying for conference crowns, along with at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament.
And speaking of conference crowns – and yes, the national postseason, too – I thought it would be fun to produce a special Noontime’s ‘What If‘ post on which teams I believe would have won their respective conference this fall.
As expected, these predictions were not easy as there are a slew of teams and programs capable of winning their respective conference, but here are my predictions. And as usual, you can share your thoughts with me on social media, as well as send a note to MattNoonan@noontimesports.com.
Commonwealth Coast Football (CCC): Western New England
For the past few seasons, the Golden Bears have been the team to watch and beat in this conference. And once again, Western New England would be the squad to watch in the CCC this fall. They would most likely enter their final game of the regular season with two important wins against Endicott College and Salve Regina University. And like most teams highlighted in this post, the 2020 Golden Bears would look a bit different than previous years, especially on offense as they would have a new quarterback, but their defense would be be a unit to watch – it would be led by linebacker Erich Keutmann, who was named a D3Football.com Preseason All-America second-teamer in September.
Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC): Dean College
The Bulldogs captured their first-ever conference crown last season, thanks to quarterback Terrell Watts, who was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Year, along with wide receiver Errol Breaux and safety Tyzohn Poole. Of course, there would be other student-athletes to watch as the season progressed, but at this point of the 2020 season, the Bulldogs would have claimed some important wins against Castleton University and SUNY Maritime. They would have also beaten a new D-III football team: Keystone College.
Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC): Framingham State University
Like Western New England, it is hard to pick against the Rams, which would be starting a new chapter in its program history with first-year coach Aynsley Rosenbaum, who spent the past 12 seasons overseeing the Framingham State offense. But like prior years, this would be the team to watch in the MASCAC. Sure, they would look a bit different on offense without quarterback Adam Wojenski, who graduated last spring, but the Rams would welcome back some key pieces from that unit, including halfback Devaun Ford, who was named the 2019 MASCAC Rookie of the Year. Framingham State would be challenged for the top spot by Bridgewater State, UMass Dartmouth, and Western Connecticut.
New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC): Williams College
The Ephs of Williams College suffered just two setbacks last season, including an opening day loss to Middlebury College, which would be a game circled on their calendar this season. Williams would somehow find a way to beat the Panthers at home, along with Wesleyan University, which tripped up the Ephs prior to their season-ending win over Amherst College last November. But for the Ephs to win the NESCAC, they would not only need to beat Amherst, Middlebury, and Wesleyan, but also Trinity College and Tufts University. Additionally, let’s not overlook Colby College and Hamilton College, which would challenge the Purple and Yellow, but in the end, quarterback Bobby Maimaron, along with the rest of the Ephs would make just a few more plays in all nine contests to secure the NESCAC title.
New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC): Springfield College
Sure, MIT maybe the favorite after winning the NEWMAC crown the past two years, but it would be hard to overlook Springfield College, which would be led by halfback Hunter Belzo and linebacker AJ Smith. The Pride, which finished with six wins last year, would win at least seven, maybe eight games this season, but their most important victory would occur during the final weekend of the regular season against the Engineers in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Another week of the National Football League (NFL) is set to kickoff this evening – are you ready for some football?
Whether you’re eager to watch tonight’s contest between the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans or Sunday’s bounce back win for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it is time to dish out our second-straight ‘What If‘ NFL Playoff Predictions for the tenth week of the 2020 season.
Like last week, I will list the current postseason teams in order for both conference, as well as highlight the best opening round matchup (in my opinion!), along with who will win their respective conference crown and yes, the Super Bowl!
Let me know what you think – send me a tweet to @NoontimeSports or an email to MattNoonan@noontimesports.com.
Who’s in the AFC Playoffs?
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-0)
Kansas City Chiefs (8-1)
Buffalo Bills (7-2)
Tennessee Titans (6-2)
Baltimore Ravens (6-2)
Las Vegas Raiders (5-3)
Miami Dolphins (5-3)
Who’s in the NFC Playoffs?
New Orleans Saints (6-2)
Seattle Seahawks (6-2)
Green Bay Packers (6-2)
Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3)
Arizona Cardinals (5-3)
Los Angeles Rams (5-3)
Most intriguing first-round matchup:
Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs: The Dolphins are trending in the right direction while it appears as if the Chiefs are sleepwalking their way to victory. Sure, this match-up may not occur once the postseason begins, but I would love to see this Dolphins defense against Patrick Mahomes. Most likely, the Chiefs would prevail, but no one should count out these Dolphins, which have scored some impressive wins over the past few weeks.
Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals: These two teams have met previously in the postseason, but who wouldn’t want to watch Kyler Murray face-off with Aaron Rodgers? Pending how the rest of the season goes, this matchup could occur, but again, who knows? Both Murray and Rodgers have been players to watch this season, so you know it would be a game every football fan would want to watch next January.
AFC Championship Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Like last week, this is my AFC Championship prediction, but maybe the Baltimore Ravens, Las Vegas Raiders or Miami Dolphins replace one of these two teams listed above? I could also see the Tennessee Titans in the championship game for the second-straight season, but in the end, the Chiefs are the defending champions and will beat the Steelers by a field goal, not a touchdown. PREDICTION: Kansas City over Pittsburgh
NFC Championship Prediction: Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints: The New Orleans Saints are the best team in the NFC – sorry, Seattle Seahawks fans, but your defense needs to improve its defense immediately. Additionally, I don’t think Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will go on a deep postseason run – maybe they lose in the opening round to the Philadelphia Eagles in the opening round? – but this matchup would feature two of the best quarterbacks in the game. And in the end, the Saints offense will make a few more plays to beat the Packers and celebrate a conference championship on their home field. PREDICTION: New Orleans over Green Bay
Super Bowl Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs vs. New Orleans Saints: This has the potential for an offensive showcase, but which defense will not break? My answer: the Saints! PREDICTION: New Orleans over Kansas City
Costa highlighted his team’s second-straight victory of the 2019 season by tossing a career and season-best four touchdowns, including three in the second half with two scores landing in the hands of Sean Bryant.
Bryant concluded the contest by posting season-bests in receptions (five), receiving yards (93), and touchdowns (three).
Hamilton commenced the game by jumping out to a 21-0 lead, thanks to a pair of Kenny Gray touchdown passes to Sam Robinson and Christian Donahoe, along with a 17-yard rushing score by Joe Park before Bates began mounting its comeback by capping the first half with a 15-yard strike from Brendan Costa to Sean Bryant.
Bates’ comeback would continue on its initial possession of the second half when Bryant hauled in a 15-yard strike from Costa before the Bobcats completed the comeback by scoring twice during the final minutes of the fourth quarter. Costa pulled the visitors within two points (21-19) with a 35-yard touchdown pass to Parker Smith with 2:31 remaining before locating Sean Bryant for a 25-yard score with 1:08 remaining to push the Bobcats ahead by five points (26-21).
Gray and the Continentals attempted respond on their final drive of the contest, but the Hamilton quarterback’s last three passes were incomplete.
In addition to throwing both a career and season-best four touchdowns against Hamilton, Costa established a new program record for total offense in a season with 1,739 yards. The Westport, Massachusetts native recorded 1,402 passing yards last season, along with 337 rushing yards. The new record erased the previous mark of 1,688 yards by Trevor Smith in 2011.
Hopefully everyone is doing well and thinking optimistically as we anxiously await the outcome of the election. Can it please end today?
Alright, let’s get to some news, beginning with the National Football League (NFL) as part two of the 2020 season begins tonight in Santa Clara, California with the San Francisco 49ers hosting the Green Bay Packers at 8:20 p.m. (eastern).
Here are some pregame reads to get you excited for tonight’s matchup:
Five keys for the 49ers to beat the Packers without quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and tight end George Kittle. Both Garoppolo and Kittle are sidelined with injuries, and not expected to return to the gridiron anytime soon.
The Packers should be considered the favorites in tonight’s matchup with so many members of the 49ers on the sidelines. Some players on dealing with nagging injuries from the past few weeks while others have been placed on the Covid-19 list.
As we all know, the 2019-20 season concluded last month in the Orlando, Florida, so the turnaround time would be much shorter than a typical offseason, but according to a few reports, the league is planning to play 72-game season instead of the typical 82-game season.
And finally, here are some additional news and links from the world wide web – have a great day, everyone!
Apparently the first Mid-American Conference (MAC) football game of the 2020 season took place last night and featured a power outage – yikes!
While we anxiously await the outcome of the 2020 election, we did learn recently that three more states – Louisiana, Maryland, and Soith Dakota – will allow wagers “on sporting events,” which is good news for DraftKings and FanDuel.
Could Alex Cora become the next manager of the Boston Red Sox? It seems like a second stint is possible, according to multiple reports over the past few days, including MLBTradeRumors.com.
Enjoy a BRAND new Noontime Sports Podcast this morning (or afternoon) – today, we welcomed Darryl Konicki, who is the associate commissioner of the Little East Conference (LEC), to discuss the content he and his the league have produced over these past few weeks and months without games being played.