BC slipslides its way to bowl eligibility

(An outsider's musings about the happenings at Boston College, aka The Heights)

BOSTON--So it has come to pass--again.


Boston College is going bowling for the second straight season, which was one of the goals set by Coach Steve Addazio for his team at the beginning of the season.

No, it will not be a glamour New Year's Day bowl. BC (6-5) has not been part of that scene in more than 30 years, but considering the setbacks caused by injuries, the slow start in which they staggered through four losses in their first six games, it was a milestone event for the Eagles.

The setting for this triumph was Fenway Park on a rainy Saturday night in another ''road game''--only BC can play "home''games in Dublin, Ireland and road games against Notre Dame and, Saturday night, against UConn.

The Eagles reached the moderate summit of 6 victories, which makes them bowl eligible with a 39-16 victory over the outmanned Huskies.

The victory was no surprise since UConn has been a work in slow progress all season in Coach Randy Edsall's first season of his second tour of duty in Storrs. The loss dropped the Huskies to 3-8 for a season which will come to a close next weekend against Cincinnati.

BC fans, however, can now breath a large collective sigh of relief without much of the pressure of having to win next weekend at Syracuse. The Orange, who were pummeled by Louisville, 56-10 on Saturday, now have 7 losses and very little incentive to beat the Eagles.

Before the game, there was widespread speculation about how the Eagles would handle life the rest of this season without starting quarterback Anthony Brown, who was sidelined in a 17-14 loss to North Carolina State last week with an injury to his right knee which is scheduled to be surgically repaired this week. The Eagles hope Brown will be ready to play by next season's opener.

The speculation increased when back-up QB Darius Wade couldn't find a way to guide BC past the Wolfpack.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

It turns out BC had enough firepower with freshman running back AJ Dillon and Wade was more than adequate in handling the Huskies, although it took a quarter and a half for BC to establish control of the game as they built a 14-3 halftime lead which was never seriously threatened in the second half.

Dillon has truly had a remarkable freshman season, with a pair of spectacular TD runs and 200 rushing yards against the Huskies as his latest showcase event.

The only uncertainty for BC is where they will make their post-season appearance.

The Atlantic Coast Conference has committed bowl slots for as many as 10 of its 14 teams.

With BC's victory, the ACC now has 8 teams who are bowl eligible. The problem that BC can not overcome is that it the Eagles are not regarded as a good bowl team in terms of support, which is the rule of thumb that the second tier bowls use to fill their spots.

Even with a victory next week at Syracuse, BC, at 7-5, will only be seriously looked at by the second tier ACC bowls--which includes the Pinstripe Bowl in New York City, the Military Bowl in Annapolis, the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La and the Quick Lane Bowl in Detroit. The Sun Bowl in El Paso also is a possibility if the Eagles finish at 7-5.

Where BC fits into that puzzle will be worked out over the next few weeks.

What Addazio and his team must do is continue to work on kinks in the system and adjust to the injuries which have taken away much of the striking power from the Eagle' game plan. The Eagles are down 9 starters.

Saturday night's game against UConn was a case in point. For the first 20 minutes of the game, the Huskies pushed and probed and punished the Eagles in taking a 3-0 lead in which the teams appeared to switch roles.

But that quickly changed as BC played like a team which had ripped through the middle part of its schedule with consecutive wins over Louisville, Virginia and Florida State, scoring four unanswered touchdowns to expand its lead to 27-3 with 9:41 remaining in the third quarter, which is more like the script before the game that had established BC as a 21-point favorite.

Addazio's satisfaction with the grit of his team in overcoming adversity was evident after the game.

""It was gratifying for all of us in that locker room,'' said Addazio. "We also know what an unbelievable future we have.' "It's good to be bowl eligible for the fourth time in five years. We faced a lot of adversity and and had to overcome it.''

The journey continues next week at Syracuse. "I'm proud of our guys,'' said Addazio. ""It (ACC) is a rough conference and we are battled, weathered against really good competition. Its the most fun I've had in my coaching career.''[/membership]