Tuesday, January 10, 2017
The college football season ended last night with a thrilling championship game. In case you missed it, Clemson scored the winning touchdown with one second remaining in the fourth quarter to defeat Alabama. Clemson rallied from 14-0 and 24-14 deficits to pull off the upset. This was the ACC's second championship in four years (Florida State won in the 2013 season).
Regular readers know that I have long advocated for a playoff system in college football and I used to publish a proposed eight-team playoff. I would still prefer an eight-team tournament over four teams but what we have now is clearly a giant improvment over the putrid BCS system or absurd vote-for-a-champion process that we had prior to that. The BCS system created some ugly mismatches in the "championship" game. Mismatches and blowouts in the title game will still happen but the fact that teams must win a semifinal game against a good team to play for the title means that we're more likely to get the two best teams playing in the championship game. This should produce more competitive and entertaining championship games.
On the down side, last night's game moved along at a horribly slow pace and didn't end until 12:28 AM Eastern so many Americans didn't get to see the great ending. A late start time, far too many commercials and college football's over-reliance on replays all contributed to the four and a half hours between the time most people tuned in and the end of the game. The networks want to make a huge profit and that's fine but it wouldn't kill them to start the game at 7:15 or 7:30 and cut down on the commercial breaks. College football can speed up the game by adopting the NFL challenge system for replays. Give each head coach two challenges to use during the game and give him a third if he wins the first two challenges. Allow officials to call for a replay only in the final three minutes of the game.
As for Boston College, my hope is that the program hit rock bottom earlier this year and has now turned things around. The Eagles played four top teams this season and were humiliated by all of them (losing by a combined score of 202-24 in those games). However, they won the final three games of the season and were 7-2 against non-Top 25 teams. The distance between BC and college football's top teams remains huge but that can be said of a lot of programs. BC was 4-14 between the start of October 2015 and the blowout loss to Florida State on November 11, 2016 so the modest three game winning streak to end the season signifies progress. Though BC's defense was not nearly as good in 2016 as 2015 (when they ranked 1st in the country) they did finish 9th in the nation. The offensive numbers were abysmal again but BC appears to have a solid recruiting class (by BC standards) with a focus on offensive skill position players. Unfortunately for BC, the ACC is getting stronger, particularly the Atlantic Division. Four 2017 BC opponents are ranked in ESPN's "Way-Too-Early 2017 Top 25": Florida State (2), Clemson (5), Louisville (18) and Virginia Tech (24). Miami (16) and Pitt (22) also made the list.ESPN's Way-Too-Early 2017 Top 25
It seems that Harold Landry will be returning for his senior season. Great news for BC fans.
It's always hard to predict when the new football schedule will be released but I will post it when it happens. We do know that BC's rotating ACC opponent will be Virginia and the non-conference schedule is expected to be Northern Illinois, Notre Dame, Central Michigan and UConn. Here are some future schedule links:
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
For the third time in four years, the BC Eagles will be headed to a bowl game. It strikes me as amazing that a team that lost four games by 38 or more points is 6-6 and heading to postseason play. But that is a product of an incredibly weak non-conference schedule that allowed the Eagles to reach the .500 mark despite a 2-6 ACC record. A 6-6 season is nothing to brag about but give the Eagles credit for a tough comeback win on the road on Saturday. Hopefully it creates momentum and confidence that they can carry into a bowl game in about four weeks. It's impossible to guess where BC will be bowling but here a few projections from various websites:
The BC defense struggled all season in ACC play but on Saturday put in their best performance since the Georgia Tech opener. Wake Forest gained 287 yards but most of their success occurred during two touchdown drives in the third quarter. The Demon Deacons were only 3 for 19 on third and fourth down opportunities. Two BC interceptions and four sacks (three by Harold Landry) helped the cause. The BC offense sputtered as usual (just 167 total yards) but the Eagles twice cashed in for touchdowns on red zone opportunities. Tommy Sweeney was the offensive star of the game (4 catches for 39 yards including the game-winning TD). Special teams committed one turnover and forced another. Mike Knoll added his 11th field goal in 12 tries this season. To sum up, it wasn't a masterpiece but the Eagles got the job done and they will be rewarded with a bowl game.
As for the College Football playoffs, it seems clear to me that Alabama (win or lose) and Ohio State have already punched their tickets. If Clemson and Washington win their conference title games, the top four decision will be a very easy decision for the Selection Committee. If Clemson or Washington or both lose, things get interesting. The logical choices in this case would be the winner of the Big Ten (Penn State vs Wisconsin), the winner of the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game and perhaps Colorado if they defeat Washington. Some people think that Michigan would be considered but I would think that is unlikely given their two losses in the final three games. If Michigan gets a playoff spot, it will be because they are a "marquee" team not because they earned the spot. I know if I were on the Committee, I would not consider Penn State. On one hand, the players shouldn't be punished for the school's evil deeds but given a close choice, I'd go another way. Personally, I would take Oklahoma State (if they beat Oklahoma and Clemson or Washington lose). A misinterpreted rule (not merely a "bad call") took away a victory over Central Michigan that they rightfully earned. Colorado needs a convincing win over Washington to warrant a closer look.
Monday, October 24, 2016
The Eagles likely surrendered their best chance to win an ACC game this season when they lost to a subpar Syracuse Orange team. Syracuse kept BC in the game with their penalties. The Boston College defense, ranked #1 in the country last season, allowed 434 passing yards and an 84% completion percentage. There are really no words to describe how poorly the Boston College offense has played since Tyler Murphy's brief tenure ended.
The coaching is abysmal. Steve Addazio is now 0-14 against "Big Five" conference teams since signing an extension through 2020. According to a website called CoachesHotSeat.com, only Notre Dame's Brian Kelly is in worse shape.
As for the ACC there are some interesting things going on. Clemson can pretty much lock up the ACC Atlantic with a win on Saturday at Florida State (even with a loss the Tigers would be the heavy favorites to win the division). Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney's call for an onside kick with a 35-3 third quarter lead at BC on October 7th means I will be rooting against Clemson as long as he is the coach there. In the ACC Coastal, the winner of the Virginia Tech-Pittsburgh game on Thursday will be tied in the loss column with North Carolina. Virginia Tech beat UNC and UNC beat Pitt so a Panthers loss would be devastating to their division title hopes (they would be one game behind both teams and surrender the tiebreakers). A Virginia Tech win would put the Hokies in control of their own destiny in the ACC Coastal with their three remaining games against Duke, Georgia Tech and Virginia (a combined 2-8 in ACC play).
Nationally, there are nine undefeated teams including Boise State (Mountain West) and Western Michigan (MAC) who would not likely have a chance to make the college football playoffs even if they remain undefeated. Alabama, Clemson, Michigan and Washington appear to have the inside track to the playoffs. 7-0 Nebraska would likely be a playoff team if they can go undefeated (would need to beat Wisconsin, Ohio State and likely Michigan is a Big 10 title game). 6-0 Baylor and 6-0 West Virginia play each other on December 3rd. If the winner is still undefeated, they certainly have a shot at a playoff spot. Among the one loss teams, Louisville, Ohio State and Texas A&M would appear to have a decent shot at a playoff spot if they can stay spotless the rest of the season.
The current top four will face some challenges. Alabama looks unstoppable but they still have games at #19 LSU and at home against #15 Auburn. You wouldn't expect anyone from the weak SEC East to threaten them in an SEC title game. Michigan of course has to get by Ohio State on the road (after some tough conference games). If they survive all that, they would likely play Nebraska in what could essentially be a quarterfinal playoff game if both teams are undefeated. If Clemson wins at Florida State this weekend they will almost certainly be undefeated heading into the ACC Championship game. North Carolina, Virginia Tech and Pittsburgh might present a challenge there. If Washington can win at Utah on Saturday their toughest remaining game would be a regular season-ending contest at Washington State. Utah, Colorado or USC would be the likely Pac 12 title game opponent if they win their division.
Monday, October 17, 2016
Needless to say it's been a depressing first half of the Boston College Football season on the heels of a depressing 2015 season. Boston College let the opener in Dublin slip away as Georgia Tech converted a late 4th and 20. The Eagles have since played two conference games, losing by a combined score of 105-10. They have beaten UMass, Wagner and Buffalo for a deceptive 3-3 record but I don't think anyone feels good about what si going on with the program at this point.
Since Steve Addazio signed a six-year extension in December 2014, the Eagles are 0-11 in the ACC and 0-13 against teams from the "Big Five" conferences. The Eagles are actually a 4 1/2 point favorite this Saturday against Syracuse. Let's hope that the 56-10 humiliation against Clemson was rock bottom for this program and that Saturday is the start of a turnaround. If not, losing to Syracuse at home will be a new low.
Despite the blowout losses, the Eagles rank 4th in the country in defense (they were #1 in the nation last year). This lofty ranking is largely a product of the weak non-conference opponents they have played but the BC offense ranks 121st (among 128 schools) against those same opponents so clearly one side of the ball deserves the lion's share of the blame.
Can the Eagles make it back to a bowl game this season? They will almost certainly need to take care of Syracuse on Saturday to accomplish that feat. They play NC State, Louisville and Florida State in the three weeks following Syracuse. Beating the Orange then closing the season with wins over UConn and Wake Forest seems like the most likely path to the postseason.
You may have noticed that I have added fan voting to the front page. Head Coach Steve Addazio remains on your ballot. I've added Brad Bates for the first time. I did not include the Offensive and Defensive Coordinators since they have only been on the job for six games.
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