It does appear that the string of success that Boston area sports have had of recent have caused the once overlooked Boston College Eagles to be lumped into something very special. Special: Anytime the Bruins have a winning record; different rant. On Thursday the Eagles travel to Blacksburg, Virginia to play the #8 ranked Virginia Tech Hokies. Hokies: Castrated Roosters; yeah I went there. The only problem with this newfound attention is that they are playing the biggest game in school history opposite game 2 of the World Series. The good news is that people will be flipping back and forth between innings and hopefully the football team’s long tradition of choking in big games will finally come to an end. The Hokies offer the Eagles an opportunity to earn national respect. VaTech’s only loss this season was a 48-7 embarrassment to #3 ranked LSU. So the stakes are very clear for BC: Win and you control your own destiny for the BCS Title game; Lose and your reputation as over-rated choke artists will be etched in stone. I know it may be a stretch saying that BC running the table puts them in the BCS final but this year has been a bit strange and beating a highly ranked conference rival on the road is a real victory that no voter or motherboard can ignore.
Let me go a bit deeper into the history of choking, because that is the plot-line of this game. Can BC step it up and be a big-time program, or will they wallow in bottom of the top 25 as “Lineman-U”. A brief history of choking:
2004: BC was “politely” leaving the Big East for a “better opportunity”, in their last year in the Big East they have a chance to win the Conference title on their way out when, on the last week of the season, they visit a sub .500 Syracuse squad that proceeds to kick their tails up and down the field 43-17, not only losing the Title, but losing to what was until that point your biggest conference rival, and to top it off making them bowl eligible in the process.
2005: BC, in their first year in the ACC, travels to UNC in the first week of November after losing in Blacksburg, with a chance to clinch their division and get a rematch with Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game. The lose a heartbreaker 16-14 that still hurts when I think about it. They finish with a very respectable 9-3 record, but lose the division to a then 7-4 Florida State.
2006: 2 November road losses kill their chances to play for the ACC Championship, one to eventual Champ Wake Forest and another to long time rival and the team that brought them over to the ACC, Miami.
Recent history does not bode well. However there is a new coach in town, with a new system, and a Heisman candidate. Speaking of the Heisman, this is not only a showcase game for the school, but also for quarterback Matt Ryan. While many of the talking heads on ESPN claim a loss will kill his chances to join the Heisman club, a good performance by him (multi-TD 250+yds 0 INT) regardless of the outcome, will serve him well on national television.
So on a big stage, there is a big game, for high stakes and a history of not performing under pressure. I’ll be flipping back and forth between innings, but my heart will be as in it as it is the World Series. Go Eagles, the eyes of Chestnut Hill are upon thee.