It's a series regarded by many as the "Holy War," a meeting between the only two Catholic universities in the FBS and a pair of institutions so often compared to one another. Truthfully, there might not be as much in common between Notre Dame and Boston College as many people assume, but the schools do share some similarities, as well as a history of exciting football games.
Before he became a legendary head coach of the Fighting Irish, Frank Leahy spent two seasons in Chestnut Hill, guiding the Eagles to a 20-2 record. In 1941, Leahy returned to South Bend, where he led his alma mater to four national championships in 11 seasons.
Leahy's connection to the two universities remains present in the series today. The Notre Dame Club of Boston presents the winner of the game with the Frank Leahy Memorial Bowl.
On an unrelated, but interesting note, Boston College's current president shares a last name with the former Notre Dame coach. Father William P. Leahy, S.J. became the university's 25th president in 1996.
In addition to the Leahy Bowl, Notre Dame's student government also presents the Ireland Trophy, a symbol of sportsmanship and friendly competition.
Many people believe Notre Dame and Boston College have a longstanding football history, but the series actually only dates back to 1975, when the teams met in Foxboro, Mass. The Irish won that game, 17-3.
Eight years later, the squads met in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tenn. Behind 111 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Allen Pinkett, head coach Gerry Faust's team knocked off the 13th-ranked Eagles, 19-18.
The series gained momentum in the 1990's, when the teams met for thirteen consecutive years between 1992-2004. To the heartbreak of Notre Dame fans, the most notable contest came in 1993, when the Eagles stunned the unbeaten Irish on Senior Day. The 41-39 defeat ended Notre Dame's hopes for a twelfth national title.
In 1998, Notre Dame's Autry Denson ran for 128 yards and two touchdowns, but it was Deke Cooper who stopped the Eagles' Mike Cloud on fourth-and-goal from the 1, to seal a 31-26 victory.
Saturday will be the 21st meeting in the series, which Notre Dame leads, 11-9. The Eagles have struggled this season, but have won seven of the last 10 meetings with Notre Dame, including six in a row from 2001-08.
In 2009, Notre Dame ended that losing streak by defeating the Eagles, 20-16. Quarterback Jimmy Clausen connected with receiver Golden Tate for two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score midway through the fourth quarter.
Last season, the Fighting Irish jumped out to an early 21-0 lead, and cruised to a 31-13 victory at Alumni Stadium.
The two teams have met three times previously on Senior Day at Notre Dame Stadium, with the Eagles playing spoiler in both 1993 and 1999. For Notre Dame fans everywhere, and especially for the 39 seniors being honored this weekend, let's hope the Irish are celebrating a fourth straight victory on Saturday.
- Josh Flynt ('11)