(An Outsiders View of goings on at The Heights. aka Boston College)
It wasn't bad. The weather was perfect--bright sunshine, 60 degrees.
Enough people showed up, announced at 22,728--to create a game-like atmosphere.
And the opponent, Wagner, showed enough grit in the early going to force the Boston College first team to break into a sweat.
Officially it will be called a 42-10 victory by the Eagles over Wagner on Saturday at Alumni Stadium. Officially, BC's record is now 2-2, which means coach Steve Addazio's team is now four wins away from reaching the main goal of this season, gaining bowl eligibilty.
But let's get real here. After the fiasco of last week's 49-0 loss to Virginia Tech, the burden on the Eagles remained bigger than ever. The last time BC beat a Power 5 conference opponent was two seasons ago, an 0-11 streak.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Beating Wagner, which came into Saturday's game with a 2-0 record, including wins over Saint Anselm College and Concordia, had more of a feel of a controlled scrimmage than an actual game. It was the nice way to jump start a season which went off the tracks against Virginia Tech.
Give credit to the BC loyalists who show up in large enough numbers to create a game-type of atmosphere, which was temporarily muted when the FCS Seahawks, who received a check just south of $400,000 for their appearance, took an early 7-0 lead.
No sweat, the Eagles didn't panic. They quickly responded with a touchdown by running back Jon Hilliman, built up a 28-10 halftime lead and coasted through the third quarter before Addazio pulled his starters and began preparing for next week's second mis-season scrimmage against Buffalo, a MAC school that went into Saturday night's game against Army with an 0-2 record, which includeds losses to Albany and Nevada, but then showed signs of life by upsetting the Cadets. .
Realistically, BC's season does not resume until Clemson comes to The Heights for a Friday night ACC showdown with unbeaten Clemson on Oct. 7.
Realistically, nothing the Eagles did on Saturday and do against Buffalo next week has any real meaning. Oh, they can improve their record to 3-2, which will leave them three games short of the six wins they need to return to a post season game.
But they will pick up no style points with the victories, which are expected and draw only minimal interest.
A year ago, the Eagles were 3-9 and two of their victories were against FCS opponents, Maine and Howard. Their other victory was against another MAC school, Northern Illinois.
For a program which needs all the positive feedback it can get, which went through the embarrassment of losing every ACC game it played last season--followed by an 0-18 ACC white wash by the men's basketball program--filling the non-conference schedule with Maine, Wagner and Howard is almost as harmful as it is helpful to the overall win total.
BC athletic director Brad Bats went well into the fall last season before wrapping up Wagner, a school that should never have been on BC's schedule. The good news is that after next week, it gets better for the foreseeable future, if only in style points.
If you are not going to schedule a Power 5 school, at least put a school with New England connections on the schedule. Bates has worked on that. UConn is back on the Eagles schedule this season and next season.
UMass and Holy Cross are also in the mix and the Eagles have future games scheduled against Purdue, Stanford, Ohio State and Notre Dame.
Non-conference scheduling is expected to get easier in a couple of years when the ACC television network makes its debut, with an expected increase from eight to nine conference games or a rule requiring two FBS non-conference opponents.
After the loss to Virginia Tech last week, Addazio promised a return to basics such as tackling, receiving, blocking, throwing and running.
Against Wagner, BC did all or most of the above with reasonable efficiency. The Eagles, led by Hilliman's 2 TDS and 90 yards picked up 300 rushing yards. QB Patrick Towles was an efficient 9 of 16 for 157 yards and 2 TDs and also ran for 2 TDs. After an opening quarter break down which allowed Wagner QB Alex Thompson to sprint 55 yards for the Seahaws only TD, the BC defense limited Wagner to 57 yards.
And none of it means diddly squat. BC needs to take the next two weeks and obviously win another game and then put a game face on that can not only compete with Power 5 conference competition, but win a game.
No one outside of an inner circle BC Optimists Club meeting expects the Eagles to beat Clemson and DeShaun Watson, which leaves a home game against Syracuse on Oct. 14th as an Armageddon type game for the Eagles.
If they win that, they will have broken the ACC losing streak, beaten a Power 5 conference opponent and crept to within two wins of bowl eligibility with winnable games against teams such as North Carolina, UConn and Wake Forest remaining.
If they lose to Clemson AND Syracuse, all bets are off on the season and on Addazio's future at BC, even though he contractually signed through the 2019 season.
What happened on Saturday gave the Eagles a better feeling about themselves, but in the grand scheme of things it should be forgotten as quickly as the loss to Virginia Tech.[/membership]