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2017 Boston College Football Notes

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

For the fourth time in five seasons, BC is headed to a bowl game. They will face 7-5 Iowa in the Pinstripe Bowl. This will be the first time the Eagles have faced Iowa on the gridiron. Iowa essentially knocked Ohio State out of the playoffs with a 55-24 win on November 4th. However, the Hawkeyes lost two of their next three games. Iowa Sophomore quarterback Nathan Stanley threw for 2,338 yards this season with an impressive 25 TDs and only 6 INTs. The Hawkeyes also had a 1,000 yard rusher in Senior Akrum Wadley who also had 26 catches for 329 yards and scored 12 total touchdowns. Junior Nick Easley caught 50 passes to lead Iowa but Sophomore Noah Fant led the team in average yards per catch (17.4) and receiving TDs (10). Iowa ranked 108th in offense this season.

Iowa was stronger on defense than offense in 2017. They ranked 34th in the NCAA FBS - 50th against the pass and 38th against the run. Iowa ranked 3rd in interceptions with 19 (BC had 18). Iowa's Joshua Jackson and BC's Lukas Denis shared the FBS lead with seven interceptions. Senior Linebacker Josey Jewell ranked 3rd in the country with 11.4 tackles per game. Sophomore Defensive End Anthony Nelson led Iowa with 6 sacks.

Miguel Recinos had a solid year as he made all 41 extra points and 7 of 9 field goal attempts. They ranked 31st in kickoff returns and 75th in punt returns. They performed very well covering kicks (6th best on kickoffs and 33rd best on punts). The Pinstripe Bowl would appear to be an evenly-matched contest and the oddsmakers agree. Iowa is currently a 2 1/2 point favorite.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Boston College will be headed to a bowl for the fourth time in five years. This will be BC's 15th bowl game this century. Obviously with so many bowl games it doesn't take much to be bowl-eligible but 15 in 18 years is an accomplishment of sorts. After the 2-4 start, it looked like BC would be out of the bowl mix but they now have a good chance to finish the season with a respectable 8-5 record.

BC's bowl destination is still very unclear and should remain that way until after the ACC Championship game. This is because Clemson and Miami could both earn a spot in the college football playoffs. There is even a remote chance that neither makes it if one of the two suffers an upset next weekend. Both Clemson and Miami making the playoffs could mean a slightly better bowl game for BC. Among the likely bowl destinations for BC are the Pinstripe Bowl in Yankee Stadium (potential matchup with the Big Ten), the Sun Bowl in El Paso where they could face Arizona or the Military Bowl in Annapolis against Navy. But the ACC also has ties to the Citrus Bowl or Taxslayer Bowl (both in Florida), the Music City Bowl in Nashville, the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, the Camping World Bowl in Orlando and two bowls where they likely won't send teams because of lack of bowl-eligible teams (Independence Bowl in Louisiana and Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit).

As I mentioned, both Miami and Clemson could make the college football playoffs. This would require both teams to win next week (Clemson at South Carolina, Miami vs Pitt) then a Clemson win over Miami in the ACC Championship Game. In that scenario, Clemson would definitely be in the playoffs but Miami would be a question mark. I think if Miami beats Pitt but loses to Clemson they would still make the playoffs if TWO of the following three things happen:

  1. Alabama wins the SEC Championship (almost certainly eliminating Georgia and Auburn in the process)
  2. Oklahoma loses to either West Virginia next week or in the Big 12 Championship (likely eliminating the Big 12 from the playoffs)
  3. Ohio State loses at Michigan next week then beats Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship game (Ohio State would be a three-loss champion and Wisconsin would be a one-loss team with no big wins)

I suspect that if Ohio State wins out and ends the season as two-loss Big Ten champion they would get the nod over one-loss Miami. I can't imagine a two-loss USC team that was blown out by Notre Dame getting in ahead of one-loss Miami that destroyed Notre Dame. Miami humiliated Notre Dame so if the Irish somehow got in ahead of the Hurricanes it would be obvious corruption by the Selection Committee.

Alabama should make the playoffs no matter what. At worst, they would be the best one-loss team. If Miami and Clemson win next week, the ACC champion will lock up a spot in the playoffs. Wisconsin controls their own destiny (two wins would leave them undefeated with a big win over Ohio State). Oklahoma will make the playoffs if they win out and Alabama wins the SEC. Where it gets interesting is if Auburn or Georgia wins the SEC title and both Wisconsin and Oklahoma win out. In that scenario you would have Alabama, the ACC champ and Wisconsin IN and the fourth team would be Oklahoma or the SEC champ. Auburn would have beaten Georgia twice and Alabama once in the past four weeks so I think they would get a playoff spot. Choosing Georgia or Oklahoma (both would be one-loss conference champs) would be a tougher call.

USC was crushed by Notre Dame which was crushed by Miami (and lost to Georgia) so it seems clear to me that neither the Irish nor the Trojans can make a legit case for the playoffs. Washington State and TCU would be extremely weak two-loss options if they won their championship games and I don't Penn State can make much of case unless there are a lot of crazy upsets next weekend. To sum up: I think Alabama is IN. Clemson, Miami and Wisconsin control their own destiny. Auburn, Georgia, Ohio State and Oklahoma have a great shot if they win their next two games. Penn State, TCU, USC, Washington State and Notre Dame need some major upsets to sneak in.

I have not mentioned undefeated Central Florida. Even if they defeat South Florida and Memphis (both 9-1) the next two weeks the USF Knights would not have a good enough strength of schedule to make the playoffs but they would be headed to a top six bowl game so it's a great story. It's a weird year when Florida State and Florida will battle to see who is the 4th and 5th best team in the State of Florida.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The 2017 Boston College football season has taken a dramatic turn in the past two weeks. The Eagles wrapped up the first half of the season with a 2-4 record (0-4 against ACC foes/Notre Dame) and offensive and defensive rankings among the bottom quarter of college football. The defense was disappointing and the offense was putrid. Over the past two weeks, however, the offense has come alive, putting up 500+ yards in each game. The defense finally showed up yesterday as they surrendered just 247 yards and forced three turnovers. BC scored 40+ points in consecutive games for the first time since 2000 and scored 40+ points in back-to-back conference games for the first time in school history.

A 2017 bowl appearance seemed impossible two weeks ago. Now, I would say it is probable. The Eagles should defeat a dreadful UConn team at Fenway in three weeks. If they beat UConn, they would just need one win against either disappointing Florida State, surprisingly solid NC State or Syracuse to be bowl eligible. Has the BC football program really "turned the corner." I need more than two good weeks to say that but I know my mood has changed dramatically in the past eight days. Friday's game against Florida State is huge. The Seminoles are having a rough year but they are still incredibly talented. It's a great test, not only for the team and the coaching staff but also for the students, who should provide a true home field advantage on Friday night.

The poor play of the BC defense this season has been shocking. They returned a lot of good players from a defense that was ranked 9th nationally a year ago (7th against the run). They were the #1 defense in the country (statistically) two years ago and 11th in 2014 (2nd against the run in those seasons). They now rank 94th in total defense and 114th against the run. In fact, if there was a down side to yesterday's performance it was run defense.

I think we all expected the young offense to struggle this season though it was even worse than expected over those first six games. Their quick transformation is shocking. I've seen a lot of "what is happening?" from BC fans on Twitter. A team that could barely manage a first down in those first four games against the ACC/Notre Dame has racked up 1,067 yards on the road in the past two. They have had success running (mainly last week), passing (yesterday) and have made big plays (five plays of 40+ yards in the two games). The biggest eye opener the past two weeks was Anthony Brown's performance yesterday (A.J. Dillon's emergence is not a big surprise). Was Saturday an outlier for Brown or didn't things ] finally "click" for the freshman? Seeing how he performs against Florida State next week will be fascinating.

I'm still not on the Coach Addazio bandwagon but he seems well-positioned to keep this job once again. Is it as simple as "Bowl game = back for 2018, no Bowl game = fired? Probably. We went through this last season when the Eagles dropped to 4-6 after two humiliating losses by a combined 83 points. They then bounced back and ended the season with three wins and a 7-6 record.

It's been a crazy year in the ACC and the race for bowl eligibility and positioning will be interesting in the final five weeks. Four ACC teams are already bowl eligible and only North Carolina has been eliminated from bowl contention. Six teams are within a game (in the loss column) of the division lead. Clemson at NC State and Virginia Tech at Miami in two weeks and Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech in three weeks are the key games to watch as of right now. It's probably too early to discuss bowl projections but what the heck ... Jerry Palm of CBS Sports projects that BC will not be in a bowl game this season. Here is his latest. One ESPN reporter does project a BC Bowl Appearance. David Hale thinks it could be a BC Eagles-Minnesota Gophers battle in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.

As far as the college football playoff race is concerned, eight teams remained undefeated (three of them in the State of Florida). There are ten Top 25 teams with just one loss with a shot to be in the playoffs. We'll see more impactful games starting next week. Penn State visits Ohio State. The Buckeyes will essentially be eliminated with a loss. Penn State can lose and still make the playoffs. NC State visits Notre Dame in what will essentially be a playoff game since the loser will be knocked out of playoff contention. Any team with one loss is in playoff mode already.

Lastly, you can go back to the home page if you would like to voice your approval or disapproval for the job Coach Addazio and AD Jarmond are doing.

2016 BC Football Notes
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