You can't call it a buzz, because that just doesn't happen in New England with college football, but let's describe it this way: There is a sense of anticipation about Boston College's Atlantic Coast Conference showdown with Clemson on Saturday night at Alumni Stadium.
With good reason. Clemson is unbeaten, and is ranked No. 2 in the country and is on impressive march through the ACC in which the Tigers have rolled over Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Florida State and Louisville by a combined score of 240-35. In beating FSU and Louisville, two of the Tigers' tougher opponents in recent seasons, Coach Dabo Swinney's team has rolled up a 136-25 scoring edge.
That is not new news. In the past five seasons, Clemson is 70-9, won a national championship, lost in the title game and has been a CFB Final Four semifinalist for the past three seasons.
What is new and different is Boston College's role in Saturday night's festivities. The Eagles are 7-2, coming off back to back wins over formerly elite ACC Coastal Division teams Miami and Virginia Tech and have climbed to their highest place in the rankings (17 in the AP writer's polls, 14 in the Coaches poll).
Former BC player and current radio analyst Pete Cronin, who has observed the Eagles on a weekly basis for more than a decade has called the cut off line for not only success, but recognition as 8 wins in a season. |"A team has to win 8 games before it is relevant,'' Cronin has preached many times over the years.
BC last crossed that football Mendoza line in 2009, Frank Spaziani's first season as the Eagles head coach. Under Steve Addazio, who replaced Spaziani in 2013, BC has never won 8 games in the regular season and has failed three times in five years from reaching that mark in the post season.
BC is on the verge of being "relevant'' before Thanksgiving. In fact, they are also within site (if not reach) of controlling their fate in the Atlantic Division, if they can pull off the upset of the Tigers on Saturday night.
That is such a rare occurrence, that not only was the game moved to a prime time Saturday night national television slot, but ESPN's Game Day Saturday pre-game (Saturday morning) show is making a visit to The Heights for the first time in 9 years.
What triggered this hoopla was BC's 31-21 win over Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. Although the Eagles were a slight favorite, they took control in the second half and established themselves as the better team. That win didn't get the Eagles any special respect against Clemson since the Tigers are a 17 point favorite.
None of that phased BC, however. They have reached a level in their season and in their team goals where they are competing at a level that the program under Addazio has not reached in slightly more than 5 and a half seasons.
""I expect the atmosphere here will be sensational,'' said Addazio at his weekly press conference on Monday, who saw only positive's from Game Day exposure. ""I think this (exposure) something that is good for the program. Our guys, they all know it and they are fired up about it. It's a signal that you are playing in a really significant game in November.''
Addazio knows that despite the fact that the winner will be the front runner to win the Atlantic Division, there are still only limited expectations for BC, which may be lowered even further if BC running back AJ Dillon is limited in play after re-injuring an ankle sprain which had sidelined him earlier this season.
""You know what,'' said Addazio. ""There is no pressure on our football team right now. ""We just go out there and swing away. That's what we'll do. So I want them to enjoy it and enjoy the fact they are playing in a meaningful big-time game. That's what they came here for and they are doing it. We know what the challenges are. We have got to have a great week of practice and put this team in a great position but they will handle all that well.''
What Addazio is saying is all true, but what is also coming into focus is that BC is very close to being relevant.+