(An outsiders view of life at The Heights, aka Boston College)
Recess for the Boston College football team is over.
Coach Steve Addazio's Eagles will report back to work next week, getting ready for a Friday Night Lights' showdown at Alumni Stadium against defending Atlantic Coast Conference champion Clemson.
The last time we saw the Eagles they were slinking out of Blacksburg, Va. following their worst loss in 66 years. To their credit the Eagles--including Addazio--offered no excuses for a 49-0 loss to Virginia Tech.
BC has spent its last two weeks working on fundamentals, while winning two games by a combined score of 77-10, with their latest effort coming at Alumni Stadium on a rainy October Saturday afternoon in a 35-3 win over Buffalo.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]
Other than the Ws which counted in BC's quest to reach the 6 victory (bowl eligible) total, the wins over Buffalo--a Mid-American Conference bottom feeder--and Wagner, an FCS opponent who dropped a 42-10 decision to the Eagles a week ago, had ZERO meaning.
Addazio and his staff will have the same questions about the BC players talents and character that they had after the loss to Virginia Tech. But as BC QB Patrick Towles, who threw a pair of touchdown passes against Buffalo, but also fumbled the ball away twice, said before the game, the Eagles task was to play the schedule they were handed.
Neither the win over Wagner, which should never have been on BC's schedule, nor the romp past Buffalo, which is now 1-26 in its last 27 games against Power 5 conference opponents, stirred the passions of the shrinking BC fan base.
Both games were played in a half-filled Alumni Stadium. And, in a head-scratching move by Addazio, the Eagles chose to run a play on the Buffalo 3-yard line in the final seconds, rather than simply end the game by taking a knee. Luckily for BC no BC player (second team) twisted an ankle or suffered an injury similar to BC wide receiver Chris Garrison, who suffered a broken left tibia after a pass reception from Towles in the first half.
If nothing else, the Eagles have to feel better about themselves. Towles, a graduate transfer from Kentucky, again did many more things right than he did wrong. The BC QB completed 14 of 25 passes for 234 yards and a pair of touchdowns while scrambling for a few first downs as well. The 6-foot-5, 253 pound Towles is a threat to move out of the pocket and he is hard to tackle.
On defense, the Eagle defense was smothering, allowing Buffalo only 67 yards in total offense, the third fewest of all time. But again, those numbers will be meaningless, starting next Friday night.
As for Towles, scrambling against Wagner and Buffalo is a different story than it will be against Clemson, although Towles has SEC credentials on his resume.
""We've come a long way'' said Towles.
The danger here, of course is to get a false positive sense of security from what the Eagles have accomplished the past two weeks. The bottom line is that they still need three wins to guarantee a non-losing season. They have not won an ACC game in 23 months, which includes a record of 0-10 against ACC competition.
And, there are no more gimmes on the schedule. The Eagles will get 15 days of rest after dealing with Clemson before they take on Syracuse at Alumni Stadium on Oct. 22.
Barring an upset against Clemson, which would obviously change the direction of the season for the Eagles, Syracuse still looks like the pivotal game of the season for the Eagles and perhaps for Addazio.
The Eagles last ACC victory against an ACC team was on November 29, 2014--against Syracuse. It also looks like the most winnable ACC game on the Eagles schedule.
If the Eagles lose to Clemson AND lose to Syracuse the entire future of the BC football program becomes open to debate. A loss to both those schools would put the Eagles at 3-4, including an 0-4 and 0-12 ACC streak. Finding conference wins against Louisville or at North Carolina State, Florida State and Wake Forest becomes problematic. It is hard to picture a scenario in which Addazio could hold his job if BC had a 2-year 0-16 stretch in the ACC .
But that is a story line for another time.
For now, the Eagles are indeed flying again.
""It's great to go out and do what you need to do and get ready to go back into conference play,'' said Addazio. ""We'd certainly like to be 4-1 now, but we are where we are and we're improving. We get ready to go in ACC play and we've been a little bit in the land of extremes. I want to see us take the next step as a team and I want to see some execution against a really obviously Top 10 opponent.''
For now, BC is feeling good about itself, has a two game winning streak and is getting ready to resume its season with an attitude that suggests anything and everything is possible.
Until proven otherwise.[/membership]