Wednesday, September 23, 2009

BC Interruption is now BC Interruption 2.0

After nearly 2 years and 680+ posts, today we bid farewell to Blogger. We are relocating to a new blog platform. Same URL, new location. If you aren't automatically redirected, kindly click on the link and you'll be whisked away to our new site.

Other than the new blog platform, nothing will be really changing around here. We encourage you to take a few minutes to register and check out our new digs. Also, please update your RSS feed link when you come on over and join us.

Go Eagles!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Frozen Four: Why Not Boston?

Brian: Last week, Tom Reale of College Hockey News ran an article discussing the next round of host cities bidding for the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Frozen Fours. Host cities reportedly placing bids for this cycle of Frozen Fours include Buffalo (site of the 2003 Frozen Four), St. Louis (2007), Denver (2008) and Washington D.C. (2009). In addition, newcomers Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Omaha are also planning bids. Surprising absent from the list of potential host cities? Boston.
"To date, there has been no official confirmation of a bid pending from the city of Boston. The then-Fleet Center was a somewhat unexpected snub in 2005 and was thought at the time to be an early favorite for this round of bids."

Is it getting harder for host cities to host the event multiple times in a short time frame? Perhaps. Reale does mention that the time period between a single city hosting the Frozen Four has widened since 1992. Milwaukee's span of four years (1993 and 1997), Boston's span of six years (1998 and 2004) and St. Paul's span of seven years (1994 and 2002) are the three shortest time periods between host cities hosting a Frozen Four.

However, it is not as if Boston last hosted the Frozen Four a few years ago. The city of Boston and the Fleet Center last hosted the event in 2004, an event which saw two Hockey East programs - Boston College and Maine - make the final four. That was also the last year that a Hockey East program hosted the event. Before 2004, Hockey East also hosted the Frozen Four in 2000 (Providence) and in 1998 (Boston).

If Boston isn't planning on bidding on the 2013, 2014 or 2015 Frozen Fours, that will mark an 11 year period where college hockey's penultimate weekend is not hosted by a Hockey East program. In that same time span, the Frozen Four will have been held in these far-flung outposts of college hockey: St. Louis, Washington D.C., Tampa, and now potentially Pittsburgh (Robert Morris? C'mon!), Kansas City or Omaha.

I know what you are thinking. We are living in an age where the only thing on college athletics directors' minds is the bottom line. Where cost-cutting measures are all any AD talks about, and where program travel costs and the mere existence of Division I-A men's ice hockey programs are highly scrutinized. Host the Frozen Four somewhere in the Midwest or the middle of the country to cut down on program travel costs.

That's all well and good. However if there's one area of the country that lives and breathes college hockey, it is New England. Put simply, to go 11+ years without having a Frozen Four in Hockey East country is a disservice to its 10 member programs and all of college hockey. I sincerely hope Boston puts a bid together for this round of bidding and ends up hosting a Frozen Four in 2013, 2014 or 2015.

A Look At How Our Opponents Fared: Week 3

The remaining opponents on BC's 2009 schedule had a much better week on Saturday, posting a 7-2 mark in week 3. Big wins from Virginia Tech and Florida State, both over ranked opponents. Another embarrassing loss for Maryland, and the plane has officially crashed into the mountain in Charlottesville.

Here's a look at how our opponents fared in week 3.

Wake Forest 35, Elon 7. Senior quarterback Riley Skinner threw for a career-high 289 yards and 3 touchdowns in a little over 3 quarters of work to lead the Deacons (2-1) to a 35-7 rout of I-AA Elon. Skinner connected on long touchdown passes to Chris Givens (54 yards) and Marshall Williams (80 yards). Not that they needed it, but Wake Forest really didn’t get much offense going on the ground. Josh Adams rushed for 25 yards on 11 carries and a 1-yard touchdown. Senior Kevin Harris added another 23 yards on the ground on 10 carries. It was the first ever meeting between the two neighboring schools, separated by only 45 miles. Wake faces their first road test of the season when they travel to Chestnut Hill this Saturday.

Florida State 54, Brigham Young 28
. Any question about the Seminole's motivation were answered in a convincing 54-28 victory over BYU - a top 10 team - at LaVell Edwards Stadium on Saturday. Christian Ponder led the 'Noles offense to touchdowns on their first four possessions, and FSU led 30-14 at half. Ponder finished the day nearly perfect, throwing for 195 yards and 2 touchdowns on 21-of-26 passing. The Seminoles also were 12 for 15 in converting 3rd down attempts and converted on all 8 trips to the red zone. The Cougar offense - led by Max Hall - was able to move the ball effectively, amassing nearly 500 yards of offense. However, turnovers were the difference in this one, as BYU ended the day +5 in turnover margin with two fumbles and three interceptions. Florida State was able to convert two first half turnovers into 10 points, and then the costliest of turnovers occurred early in the third quarter when Greg Reid intercepted Max Hall and took it to the house for a 64-yard return. The Seminoles (2-1) host USF next week, who were dealt a costly blow this past week. Senior QB Matt Grothe is now out for the season after suffering a torn ACL in the Bulls 59-0 win over Wofford. With Grothe out, the Seminoles are already early 13 point favorites against USF this weekend before traveling to Chestnut Hill in two weeks.

Virginia Tech 16, Nebraska 15. The Hokies needed some late game heroics from the most unlikely of late-game heroes - Tyrod Taylor - to put away the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Lane Stadium on Saturday. Down 5 points with 1:44 to go, Taylor hooked up with WR Danny Coale on an 81 yard pass completion to the Nebraska 3-yard line. On third and goal from the 11, Taylor scrambled and found Dyrell Roberts in the end zone for the go ahead score. Other than tailback Ryan Williams (107 yards on 21 carries, 1 TD), the Hokies weren't able to get much going on offense until the game-winning drive. The Hokies defense, however, was again stout, keeping the Cornhuskers out of the end zone on the day. Nebraska's kicker Alex Henery booted in five field goals from 40, 27, 19, 38 and 38. Virginia Tech hosts Miami (Fla.) this week in a game that may very well determine who represents the Coastal Division in Tampa.

NC State 45, Gardner-Webb 14. NC State quarterback Russell Wilson threw for 4 touchdowns and a career-high 345 yards on 26 of 36 passing in a 45-14 rout of Gardner-Webb. Wilson also broke the NCAA D-I record for most consecutive passes without an interception (329). Running back Toney Baker finished the day with 71 yards on 10 carries for 2 touchdowns. The snacking on I-AA opponents is over now for NC State, with the Big East's Pittsburgh (3-0) traveling to Carter-Finley on Saturday.

Notre Dame 33, Michigan State 30. The Irish were able to hold off a late rally by the Spartans to defeat MSU in South Bend 33-30. A late interception from safety Kyle McCarthy at the 4 yard line secured the win for the Irish and likely gave Weis and the coaching staff a stay-of-execution. Jimmy Clausen again had a solid performance, throwing for 300 yards and 2 touchdowns on 22 of 31 passing. The concern for Notre Dame has to be on the defensive side of the ball, where they allowed the Spartan offense to rack up 459 yards of total offense, including 354 through the air. The Irish defense allowed 29 more yards of total offense than the week before against Michigan. The biggest blow to the Irish offense is the loss of wide receiver Michael Floyd. Floyd broke his left collar bone in the win Saturday and will likely miss the rest of the regular season. Jimmy Clausen will also undergo an MRI on his right foot after being injured on a sack in the second quarter. Clausen may not be 100% when the Irish play at Purdue on Saturday.

Central Michigan 48, Alcorn State 0. The Chippewas took care of business for a second straight week, shutting out I-AA Alcorn State 48-0 on Saturday. Junior RB Carl Volny rushed for 101 yards and two touchdowns as CMU cruised to a second-straight victory. QB Dan LeFevour threw for 92 yards and a touchdown on 10-of-12 passing and rushed for 2 more touchdowns. The defense held the Alcorn State offense to 36 yards rushing on the day. Central Michigan starts MAC play with a home game against Akron this Saturday.

Southern Miss 37, Virginia 34
. The Cavaliers, on the heels of their first victory over an FBS college football team, let a 17-point second half lead slip away and fell in Hattiesburg 37-34 to fall to 0-3. Gone is the new-fangled Cavalier spread offense, as Groh and the Cavs have dumped the spread for a more traditional UVA offense. Results were fairly good in the first half. Virginia jumped out to a 13-0 first quarter lead, including a 69-yard strike from Sewell-to-Tim Smith. QB Sewell finished the game with 312 yards, 2 TDs and an INT on 24-of-46 passing. At least there are signs of life for the Cavaliers. UVA managed to score more points against Southern Miss (34) than they had managed against William & Mary and TCU combined (28). Through three weeks, however, the UVA offense ranks towards the very bottom of the FBS in rushing offense (107) and total offense (108).

North Carolina 31, East Carolina 17. The Heels returned the favor and avenged a 2007 loss to East Carolina by beating the Pirates in Chapel Hill 31-17. The Heels saw some much-needed receivers step up and saw improved play from their offensive line on Saturday. Freshman Erik Highsmith hauled in 6 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown, while Jheranie Boyd made an acrobatic catch on his way to a 59 yard touchdown in the first half. Yates threw for 223 yards and 2 touchdowns in the victory. Running back Ryan Houston added two touchdowns on the ground. The Heels offense set a season-high of 433 total yards (285 passing / 148 rushing) on the day.

Middle Tennessee State 32, Maryland 31
. More indignity for the Maryland Terps. For the second straight year, Maryland has been beaten by the Sun Belt's Blue Raiders. How's that hot seat working out for you, Friedgen? The natives are certainly getting restless in College Park. No rest for the weary though, as Maryland hosts Rutgers and Clemson at home, followed by a road trip to Wake Forest. Maryland could very well be staring a 1-5 start in the face after 6 weeks.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Headlines: Kickoff Times for Weekend of October 3

The good news (or bad news, depending on how you are feeling about BC football this morning)? The October 3 Boston College vs. Florida State game will be on television. Woo. On a major television station and not the internet to boot.

The bad news? This came could still be a noon kickoff.
The ACC announced today that ESPN/ABC has declared a six-day option for the two ACC games on October 3. The actual start time will be announced no later than Sunday, September 27.

The games to be held are:
Oklahoma at Miami, ABC, at either 3:30 or 8 pm
Florida State at Boston College, ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC at either 12 noon or 3:30 pm

Rest of the ACC schedule for the week of October 3 after the jump.

Saturday, Oct. 3
Virginia at North Carolina, RAYCOM, 12 noon
Clemson at Maryland, ESPNU, 12 noon
Virginia Tech at Duke,, 12 noon
NC State at Wake Forest, ESPNU, 3:30 pm
Georgia Tech at Mississippi State, CSS, 7:30 pm

Preliminary Blogpoll: Week 3

Have at it.

1 Florida (3-0)
2 Texas (3-0)
3 Alabama (3-0) 1
4 LSU (3-0) 5
5 Penn State (3-0) 1
6 California (3-0) 1
7 Mississippi (2-0) 2
8 Virginia Tech (2-1) 2
9 Miami (Florida) (2-0) 3
10 Oklahoma (2-1) 3
11 Cincinnati (3-0) 4
12 Southern Cal (2-1) 9
13 TCU (2-0) 1
14 Ohio State (2-1) 4
15 Kansas (3-0) 4
16 Boise State (3-0)
17 Georgia Tech (2-1) 6
18 Oklahoma State (2-1) 6
19 Florida State (2-1)
20 Clemson (2-1) 5
21 Pittsburgh (3-0) 1
22 Houston (2-0) 1
23 Georgia (2-1)
24 Missouri (3-0) 3
25 North Carolina (3-0)

For your reference, here is last week's ballot.

Dropped Out: Brigham Young (#8), Nebraska (#17), Utah (#20).

Welcome! Florida State (#19), Georgia (#23), North Carolina (#25)

Waiting Room: Nebraska, Texas Tech, South Florida, Iowa, Michigan

By Conference: Atlantic Coast 6, Big XII 5, Southeastern 5, Big East 2, Big Ten 2, Pac-10 2, Conference USA 1, Mountain West 1, WAC 1

Teams We Disagree On The Most: Boise State (9.19), Pittsburgh (8.49), Clemson (5.66), Houston (5.66)

Teams We Agree On: Not much agreement this week. We both only had Kansas at #15.

Games Brian/Jeff Watched:

Georgia Tech at Miami (Fla.)
Boise State at Fresno State
Boston College at Clemson (in-person)
Texas Tech at Texas
Utah at Oregon (25%)
Michigan State at Notre Dame (25%)

Headlines: Offense Tamed by the Tigers

9/19/2009 – Clemson 25, Boston College 7 – 2-1, 0-1 ACC

Brian: In perhaps the longest and ugliest performance of Boston College football I’ve watched since following the team, the Clemson Tigers scored a school-record 6 field goals en route to a 25-7 victory in Death Valley Saturday.

Let’s start off with the BC offense who managed 54 total yards of offense (with 56 of those yards coming in the lightning-delayed second half). When talking about the Eagles offense, the easy place to start is with quarterback and the play of Justin Tuggle and David Shinskie. Tuggle finished the day 4-of-20, 23 yards, 20 yards rushing, 1 TD and 3 INT. Shinskie was 1-1 for 2 yards and had a bad, bad looking fumbled snap that led to another 3 Tiger points.

Horrible offensive line play aside, did you like how the Eagles coaching staff used our two quarterbacks on Saturday?

Jeff: There's not much to like about anything relating to the QBs on Saturday but I absolutely think that Spaz did the correct thing by giving Shinskie two consecutive series and then going back to Tuggle for the rest of the game. I would like to see both QBs play again next week despite Shinskie's poor effort Saturday. In his defense, he had had watched his team from the sideline fail to gain a single first down aside from via penalties. Then, in his first game ever on the road or in front of a lrage crowd, the first play on both drives was a rushing attempt that lost yardage. So Shinskie started on 2nd down and more than ten yards twice. He deserves to get another shot against Wake Forest this coming Saturday. How would you have handled it if you were Spaziani?

Brian: Hindsight is certainly 20-20, but I would have left Tuggle in the game for at least all of the first half. While Tuggle played very poorly over the first few series, I think there is something to be said for leaving him in and getting him the extra reps and experience playing in a hostile environment. The next few weeks will make or break Boston College’s season, and leaving Tuggle in – at least in my opinion – may have helped the offense (and especially the offensive line) get into a better rhythm that can carry over into the next two weeks Atlantic Division matchups. I’ve never liked the Tom O’Brien philosophy of throwing in the backup QB for a couple drives in the second quarter as it seems to at least temporarily disrupt the offense’s rhythm.

That being said, after the first or second lightning delay, I have to question why we aren’t throwing in either Marscovetra or Boek under center. Nothing was working for the Eagles offense on Saturday. Why not throw either of them under center late in the third and fourth quarter and see what happens?

As we discussed on Friday, there may be more limited success with a two quarterback system over the last few years, but nothing I have seen from either Tuggle or Shinskie leads me to believe this is going to work at BC. Spaziani needs to establish a starter as soon as possible, and have that quarterback take 100% of the snaps on offense. That includes getting rid of the wildcat formation with Montel Harris in the shotgun. What is clear to me is that this team – and this offense – needs a leader. We need the team to rally around one person in the huddle and with how young these quarterbacks are, it simply will take time and snaps to establish a leader. Sticking with the QB rotation won’t do much to help establish a leader for the Eagles offense. My fear is that if the rotation continues, the offensive line and the rest of the offense will continue to look lost.

Brian: We turn to the defense and if there can be a bright spot in this game, you have to look at the play of the defense as that bright spot. The Eagles held the Tigers to 252 yards of total offense in a game where they were on the field for a majority of the game. The Eagles defense was not given an assist by the offense, which left the Eagles defending a short field for much of the game. Just look at the starting field position Clemson enjoyed on the day:

Own 35
Own 48
Own 8
Own 30
Boston College 42
Boston College 8
Own 45
Own 41
Own 47
Own 47
Own 15
Own 8
Own 43
Own 25
Boston College 17
Boston College 31

Given that the Eagles were able to limit the Tigers offense to zero touchdowns, when four Tiger drives started on BC’s side of the field (including drives starting from the BC 8 and BC 17), you have to consider this an outstanding performance from the Eagles. When Mike McLaughlin hits the field hopefully in a few weeks, he will help bolster a defense that is arguably still one of the best in the conference.

Are you encouraged by the young Eagles defense play so far? And can we expect our defense to keep us in games if the offense continues to lag behind the play of the offense?

Jeff: Absolutely. Clemson was both of our picks to win the division and the defense single-handedly kept us in the game for a while in their first test of the season and first game on the road. There is no reason to not be excited about the defense and if they can get us some points as they have had a knack of being able to do in the past, maybe we can still make a little noise in the ACC this year.

Brian: So where do we go from here? No time to lick our wounds as the Eagles face two pivotal ACC Atlantic Division opponents. How the Eagles rebound and play the next two weeks will go a long way towards determining whether the Eagles can make some noise in the Atlantic Division championship race. Lay out a game plan for Spaziani and the coaching staff for this upcoming week. How can the Eagles – particularly the offense – get back on track and rebound from this loss?

Jeff: The good news is that this week we play at home where, even though it was inferior opponents, our offense had two very good performances the first two weeks of the season. The other good news is that Wake's defense is not as good as Clemson's and they are also far less likely to return any punts for TDs since they do not have a CJ Spiller. I like the Eagle's chances of getting the running game going, putting the QBs in positions to succeed on Saturday and coming away with a win. After Saturday, we'll see if we have a team that can compete with FSU the following week. Given the many fluky factors going into Saturday's loss, I'm not going to write off the season yet by any means.

Brian: As I mentioned, this team needs a leader on the field. Now that we are already a fourth of the way through the season, Spaziani and the coaching staff need to establish a starting quarterback as soon as possible. Like, tomorrow.

Even though the Eagles might not see a defense as strong as Clemson’s the rest of the way out, the coaching staff will have to put a ton of work into preparing for Wake Forest. Jim Grobe's gimmicky offense has always given Spaziani-led defenses fits and we can’t expect as good of a performance from the Eagles defense as we saw last week. I don’t think it can be said enough how well I thought the defense played on Saturday. And while points off defense would certainly be nice, we can’t count on the defense to win us games outright. We’ll need to score points on offense, and that starts with putting in long hours this week with the offensive line. We’ll need the OLine to step up to help establish the run and buy Tuggle and Shinskie some time if we have any hope of coming away with the win on Saturday.

The other good news is that this is Wake Forest’s first road test of the season, having played their first three non-conference games at BB&T Stadium. Hopefully BC fans don’t give up on this team already and show up in full force at Alumni Stadium on Saturday. A rockin' Alumni Stadium can help bolster this young Eagles team’s confidence and potentially shake a Demon Deacon team making their first road trip of the season.

Jeff: I disagree that coach should name a starter tomorrow. Tuggle needs to win the job Saturday and not be handed it because Shinskie had fumbles. You don't become a leader on the field by being handed a position by default.

Brian: I agree you don’t become a leader on the field by being handed anything, but it is clear to me early that both Shinskie and Tuggle aren’t stepping up as natural leaders of this team. While we have Herzlich on the sidelines serving as the emotional leader of this team, no one really seems to be stepping up in this department on the field. Getting one of these guys extra reps and making it clear to everyone who the quarterback of this team is can only help. Tuggle has already been named the starter for each of the Eagles first three games, so I don’t think making the decision to stick with Tuggle this week is that far of a reach.

Jeff: I will agree the defense was awesome. Clemson ran 78 plays! Lastly, hopefully the young Wake players have some of the same shock that some Boston College players undoubtedly felt this past Saturday going on the road for the first time.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Can This 2 QB System Actually Work? and the Big Finish

Brian: On Wednesday, the Globe’s Mark Blaudshun reported that while Tuggle will again be the starter for the third straight week, both BC quarterbacks – Tuggle and Shinskie – will play against the Tigers. Are Frank Spaziani and Gary Tranquill onto something here?

Now conventional college football wisdom espouses the meme that "if you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterbacks." Not so fast my friends, says Chris of Smart Football?
"... But I think the winds are changing, and a two-quarterback system is quite possible. At its best you are likely to have the system Florida used to win the 2006 title: a starting quarterback in charge of most of the offense (Chris Leak), and a second guy with special abilities for whom a package is installed (then-freshman Tim Tebow). This example has now been made universal throughout football under the nauseatingly overused rubric, "the wildcat." (Had "wildcat" been around in 2006 think of all of the puns Dan Shanoff could have used to describe how Meyer used his young talent.) The reason that works though is because you choose a starting quarterback for one set of skills (passing, reading the defense, making checks, accuracy, some athleticism, etc) but another guy opens up a new dimension because of their running ability, and the spread with a mobile guy gives the offense certain numerical advantages it doesn’t get with an immobile quarterback."

Smart Football cites a few reasons why this crazy, cockamamie scheme might actually work. For one, the new no-huddle offenses where the offense checks down with the sideline limit the traditional QB role of "field general." Second, the rhythm or leadership argument is mitigated by having each quarterback specialize in their own "package" offense (think: spread or pro-style schemes vs. the "wildcat").

So Jeff, can this scheme continue to work? Or does this spell impending doom and gloom for the Eagles offense?

Jeff: I had been hoping, like you and most people, that a starter would've been announced by now. Unfortunately, that didn't happen but I think we'll still be OK. During the TOB days, he'd have a starter and then play his backup in the second quarter. The backup was typically the same type of QB as the starter only younger. Tuggle and Shinskie are not the same and will create some preperation problems for the defense.

Brian: Here is Spaziani's sound byte from this week's presser:
"We’ll do what we did before," said Spaziani. "Play two guys, but we’ll play the guy with the hot hand."

Do you think Spaziani's decision to play both Tuggle and Shinskie is simply to make Clemson prepare for both QBs? Or is he really going to stick with this 2 quarterback system throughout the season?

Jeff: It's too early to say the rest of the season. I think Spaz will settle on one as soon as one emerges which could happen tomorrow. I don't think the preperation issue for defenses is enough of a pro to continue this for the season.

Brian: Who emerges as the starter after the game on Saturday? Is this quarterback competition Tuggle's to lose?

Jeff: I told you after the Kent State game that I think Eagle in Atlanta was correct in guessing that Tuggle with start all 12 games this year.

Big Finish

Jeff: The big recruiting news of the week was that DePaul (NJ) senior Shakim Phillips - the #5 wide receiver prospect in the country – gave a verbal commitment to the Eagles on Tuesday. Good news?

Brian: Great pickup, sure. Funny how not two years ago everyone railed on the BC wide outs and now we have one of the best WR units in the conference.

Brian: Clemson's Landon Walker will start at right tackle Saturday in place of Corey Lambert. Lambert struggled to contain Georgia Tech DE DeAndre Morgan. Heard anything about this down there? Thoughts?

Jeff: A lot of what I hear is very Clemson biased so it's tough to sort through.

Jeff: Who needs this win more? Clemson – already sitting at 0-1 in ACC play – or BC with three straight Atlantic Division matchups coming up?

Brian: Good question. I would say Clemson needs this game more to prove that they are a contender in the Atlantic. Dropping to 0-2 in ACC play with a third loss likely when they travel to Miami would make for a tough, tough uphill climb to win the Division.

Brian: The Eagles will likely play in front of their largest crowd of the season at Memorial Stadium. Will the noise and atmosphere be a factor for the young Eagles signal-callers?

Jeff: Let's hope not but how can it not be especially for Shinskie who has been away from football so much.

Jeff: Linebacker Mike McLaughlin will dress for the Clemson game but whether he gets his uniform dirty is up to him. Do you expect him to hit the field tomorrow?

Brian: We certainly could use McLaughlin on the field but I want him to take as much time as he needs to fully recover. My guess is we won't see him on the field.

Brian: More interweb grumblings about a West Virginia-for-BC-to-the-ACC move. What can finally happen to shut these clowns up for the last time?

Jeff: Nothing. Just stop reading their articles.

Jeff: The weather report calls for a high of 79 degrees and 50% chance of thunderstorms. Advantage ______?

Brian: Yuck. Some southern hospitality Jeff! Not sure if this gives either team a distinct advantage but if I had to take a guess, I'd say slight advantage Eagles. Weather takes some of the 80,000+ fans out of this game?

Brian: Last one, HD predicts that Clemson will win this game 21-17. You really can’t find a college football pundit that has the Eagles winning this game. I know you live in a house divided, but man up and make a prediction. Who wins? What’s the final score?

Jeff: I've got Boston College winning 23-15. Lots of field goals.

Pick 5

Brian: A pair of 2-3 weeks for both of us last week leaves me with honors up 4 games on the season. I like Cincinnati in a virtual pick 'em and four favorites this week including a homer pick ... that doesn’t involve BC.
  • Cincinnati (+1) at Oregon State
  • Northwestern (-3) at Syracuse
  • Boise State (-7.5) at Fresno State
  • Tennessee at Florida (-29.5)
  • Arizona at Iowa (-5.5)
Jeff: I don't like your picks this week. I like my chances to make up some ground.
  • Boston College (+7) at Clemson
  • East Carolina at North Carolina (-7)
  • Michigan State (+9.5) at Notre Dame
  • West Virginia at Auburn (-7)
  • Navy (+8) at Pittsburgh

On the road to Clemson. Follow our weekend adventures on Twitter @bcinterruption. Leave your score prediction in the comments section below. Go Eagles! Beat Clemson.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Five Good Minutes: Block-C

To preview this weekend's Clemson game, we spent five good minutes with the Clemson blog, Block-C. If you haven't checked these guys out yet, Block-C is a must read for your fix on all things Clemson Tigers.

In exchange, we answered some questions for Willy Mac and Block-C. Here are our answers to Block-C's questions.

BCI: For Clemson, it was the tale of two halves against Georgia Tech last Thursday night. Before you knew it, the Tigers were getting de-pantsed in front of a national TV audience and were down 24-0. The Tigers, however, were able to score 27 unanswered points and actually take the lead in the fourth quarter before Georgia Tech came back to win the game. What adjustments did Clemson make in the second half that helped spark the comeback?

Block-C: They stopped shitting the bed and started playing football. That's the most honest assessment I can give you. The first half, they came out like they had been paid to take a fall. We started playing out assignments and stopped over pursuing and playing bad spots. We calmed down and just played.

BCI: Last year, Clemson’s offensive line was absolutely annihilated by the Alabama defensive line in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic. Tell us about your O-line this year. What improvements and/or personnel changes have been made to bolster the Tigers O Line?

Block-C: After that game last year, I'd say our line improved a little bit each game. Then over the summer, we improved just a little bit more. So after adding all those games up (don't forget the bowl game), I'd say that puts us at being just a little bit better than completely shitty at offensive line. We're a strong, shitty offensive line. Oh yeah, and we average the heaviest line in the ACC at a few ticks over 315 pounds on average.

BCI: Have you been impressed with what you’ve seen so far from Kyle Parker? What can the Eagles expect out of him on Saturday?

Block-C: I really have been impressed. He has a good zip on the ball and is just a straight up athlete. He reacts like a good up and coming quarterback should. He can scramble if necessary. They can expect to see a pretty... fuck it, just throw this one out. I mean, you saw the Georgia Tech game. You saw what he can do given a proper amount of time.

BCI: Who are your playmakers on defense? Special teams?

Block-C: Our play makers are just about everyone on that side of the ball. The one great thing I like about Kevin Steele and the defense he's set up is that they have some great play makers that make an even better unit.

If you had to point to one player, go no further than DeAndrea McDaniel, of the Megwa broken femur fame. He is that one guy one the team that when the coach says to "tackle beyond the ball carrier" that he actually goes and does it. It's really unfair how hard he hits.

If you had to point to a specific unit right now, I'd say it's the defensive line. The put the appropriate pressure one the offense and open up the right alleys for the linebackers to do their jobs. They also close the right gaps to stop the run.

BCI: Until last season, the Eagles have had the Tigers number in ACC play. We hear a lot of times other ACC program fan bases calling for Boston College to go back to the Big East or to jettison both Miami (Fla.) and BC and go back to a nice little 10-team league. We think these gripes are unfounded and these people are just a bunch of haters. Curious as to how you feel about ACC expansion and in particular the addition of Boston College, Virginia Tech and Miami (Fla.)

Block-C: I've never heard of it. But I am starting to look at you guys as if you're our black mark of death right now. Ever since you guys joined, we were awesome for like two years, then we've been going beyond the low water mark for some time now.

BCI: Jeff and I haven't missed the Boston College at Clemson game since the Eagles joined the conference in 2005. We absolutely love making the trip down to South Carolina as you guys know how to throw a pretty darn good tailgate. While Clemson may be the toast of the ACC when it comes to their tailgating scene, have you come across another school that one-ups you in this department?

Block-C: Not in the ACC ... We do tailgaiting right. No, we're not full of it. We just know we do this thing properly. Also, a real team doesn't limit their tailgating to x amount of hours before and after the game. Jesus, that was conceited.

BCI: Last one, make a prediction for this game. Who wins? What's the final score?

Block-C: We do by 4-7 in the 20's.

BCI: Thanks for joining us guys.

For more information on the Tigers, be sure to check out Block-C.

Blogpoll Roundtable 2, or when a Yankee comes in and runs the ACC

College Game Balls serves double duty this week, hosting both this past week's ACC Roundtable and the big boys roundtable. His questions are below followed by our answers.

1. Which freshman impressed you more last weekend: the California dream Matt Barkley who quarterbacked USC over tOSU or white lightening Tate Forcier who slashed through Notre Dame? Which one would you like to have on your team? Feel free to write in another worthy candidate.

I'm going to go with Tate Forcier here. While Barkley did have an impressive fourth quarter drive to win the game in the 'Shoe, Tate Forcier had a better day overall (23 of 33, 240 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT). Forcier is also the more mobile QB as he rushed for 70 yards Saturday in the win vs. Notre Dame. Forcier doesn't seem to have nearly as many weapons as Barkley does - cough, cough Joe McKnight - so the edge goes to Forcier again here. Finally, Barkley had nearly half of the fourth quarter to engineer his game-winning drive. A drive he threw the ball all of 4 times. All Forcier had to do was set up a game-tying field goal but decided to go for the jugular and the touchdown. One game a career does not make, and it is still way too soon to tell whether either of these freshmen are for real. But at this point I'll take Forcier over Barkley for the Eagles.

2. Let’s play a game of pretend the unthinkable happened. Commissioner __________ of your conference has been forced to resign after he was caught canoodling with some harlots. Great news, you’ve been chosen to succeed him. To make your mark you decide to make a big change. What is it going to be?

Swofford. Tsk, tsk.

This is an easy one. First, we are realigning the ACC's divisions so that they make, you know, sense to the rest of college football. The ACC remains the only college football conference that has divisions that don't break down along geographic lines (and as a result, make absolutely no sense to outsiders). Effective immediately, the ACC will be realigned into North and South divisions. The ACC North will be the old ACC Atlantic, sending Florida State and Clemson packing and replacing them with Virginia and Virginia Tech. Yes, I realize that this precludes a Florida State vs. Miami (Fla.) ACC Championship Game, but how many times has that mythical game happened, Hurricane fans? Exactly. Deal with it.

Second, we are doing away with these manufactured inter-conference rivalry games. We will be adopting the Big XII schedule format where teams play 3 teams from the other division on a home-and-home format, then play the other 3 schools over the next 2 year period. When the division crown is an 8 game race, is it really fair that Clemson-Georgia Tech and BC-Virginia Tech play annually while the Deacons get an easy win again Duke?

Third, the ACC Championship Game is moving to Charlotte. Permanently. This championship game played in Florida experiment was cute and all, but enough is enough. But what about Charlotte weather in December? you might say. The Big XII hosts championship games in cold-weather cities. They haven't seemed to have many issues there. And Charlotte is a major East coast hub and central to a majority of ACC programs.

Finally, we will threaten to pull out of the ACC-ESPN TV deal for basketball (No Duke-Carolina for you!) to negotiate a television deal where every ACC football game is available on television. No more of this junk. Football is meant to be watched on a high-def TV, not my 19" Thinkpad laptop screen.

3. This week the quality of games is kicked up a gear. Other than your own, which game are you most looking forward to?

We are really looking forward to Georgia Tech at Miami (Fla.) tonight. The winner will have the inside track at the Coastal Division crown. In fact, over the next three or four weeks, it seems like the Coastal Division champ will emerge with Georgia Tech, Miami (Fla.), Virginia Tech and North Carolina all squaring off in early season action. Also looking forward to Nebraska at Virginia Tech this week as Tech looks to avoid starting the season 1-2 and defending what small shreds of credibility this conference has left in football.

Of course, we aren't looking forward to these games half as much as this Saturday's BC vs. Clemson game.

4. What mascot and/or tradition would you thieve from another school if it was socially acceptable.

Since I have chosen to matriculate at two schools with arguably the most generic school mascots of all time - Eagles and Wildcats - we need to spice things up a little bit around here. So we'll take on the mascot of the now-defunct Bradford College of nearby Haverhill, MA. The BC Fighting Squirrels, anyone?

He's even got a black eye. That's because he's one badass squirrel.

Since this rebranding attempt will never work, for the tradition, we're selecting the Auburn War Eagle. Having seen this thing fly around Jordan-Hare Stadium before the game, it is quite the spectacle. When the war eagle crashes down into the middle of the field, the home Auburn crowd gets totally amped. This is the perfect addition to BC Eagles football. For one thing, it will actually get butts in seats before kickoff as fans will want to get there to watch the eagle flying high above Alumni Stadium. Second, unlike Auburn ... our school mascot is actually an eagle. This makes a whole lot more sense as a tradition on the Heights than it does on the Plains. Just sayin'.

ACC Power Rankings: Week 2

Power Ranking Thursday!

Week 1
  1. Virginia Tech (1-1, 0-0 ACC)
  2. Georgia Tech (2-0, 1-0)
  3. Miami (Fla.) (1-0, 1-0)
  4. Clemson (1-1, 0-1)
  5. North Carolina (2-0, 0-0)
  6. Boston College (2-0, 0-0)
  7. Florida State (1-1, 0-1)
  8. Wake Forest (1-1, 0-0)
  9. NC State (1-1, 0-0)
  10. Duke (1-1, 0-0)
  11. Maryland (1-1, 0-0)
  12. Virginia (0-2, 0-0)

  • No change in the top 4 this week.
  • Not particularly amused with Florida State's escape at home against Jacksonville State. While a W is a W, both North Carolina and Boston College beat better opponents in week 2 (and even UNC looked better doing it). UNC and BC are each up 1 spot this week while FSU falls to #7. We arguably also could have slipped Wake past FSU as well this week.
  • Duke's win over Army > Maryland's OT win vs. James Madison, so Maryland and Duke swap spots this week at #10 and #11.

This Week

Conference: Georgia Tech at Miami (Fla.) (tonight, ESPN) ... Boston College at Clemson

Non-Conference: Duke at Kansas ... East Carolina at North Carolina ... Nebraska at Virginia Tech ... Virginia at Southern Miss ... Middle Tennessee State at Maryland ... Gardner-Webb at North Carolina State ... Elon at Wake Forest ... Florida State at BYU

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gameday Crew Breaks Down Tigers-Eagles

Two-thirds of the ESPN Gameday crew (Fowler and Herbstreit) break down the Boston College-Clemson game this Saturday.

Cliff notes:
  • "When BC gets conference games at home, Frank Spaziani does a good job with his staff, with his players making them believe they can win." Too bad this game is on the road, Kirk.
  • Advantage Clemson athletically.
  • Spaz's defenses are good at containing big plays.
  • Jacoby Ford = "wicked" fast.
  • BC's defense will keep them in the game, but too many questions at quarterback.


Oddsmakers: Clemson Game

It's Clemson week! What better way to start talking Eagles vs. Tigers than with a game of oddsmakers.

Chances a BC running back goes over 100 yards rushing?

Jeff: Well why don't we just say chances that Montel Harris runs for over 100 yards since Haden doesn't even have 100 yards on the season yet? I'm going to say this is unlikely. I expect Clemson to play run first all game and put the game in the hands of whichever one of our rookie quarterbacks is under center in front of the large and loud Clemson crowd. As much as I like our backs, they were not impressive enough against Kent State for me to think that anyone will rush for over 100 yards against an ACC opponent until our passing game proves it needs to be given respect. 20%.

Brian: I am going to disagree with you here. Clemson had to be thinking run first last Thursday night too against Georgia Tech, and they let the Yellow Jackets rush for over 300 yards and over 100 yards through the air. The Jackets actually nearly had two backs go over the century mark. Now I realize that the Eagles don't run a triple option, run-heavy offense, but I think the Eagles have enough skill at running back (Ninja, Haden, Deuce) and quarterback (Tuggle) that this mark can be eclipsed in this game. The Eagles offensive line play should also be strengthened by the return of Nate Richman who will be replacing Emmett Cleary at left tackle. In reality, it might only take one back to bust through the line and get a long gain for an Eagles back to go over 100 yards on the day. I will go fairly high on this one and say 45%.

Chances BC keeps Jacoby Ford out of the end zone?

Brian: I'm going to go fairly low on this one. I think the Eagles will first and foremost scheme defensively to stop C.J. Spiller. As Eagles fans are painfully aware, Spiller basically lit up the Eagles defense and special teams last season en route to 242 all-purpose yards in the Tigers first win over BC in ACC play. With all eyes on Spiller, it wouldn't surprise me if Ford slips into the end zone either on offense or special teams. Through two games (albeit against inferior opponents), the pass defense and special teams have been better than expected for the Eagles so far and give me reason to go higher on this one. 25%.

Jeff: Jacoby Ford, more than C.J. Spiller in my opinion, is an over-hyped speedster. Certainly he deserves to be labeled ridiculously fast - because he is - but he is not a great wide receiver. Therefore his best chance of scoring a touchdown is really on special teams when he goes against a quality defense like Boston College's defense. I'll go as high as 82%.

Chances BC quarterbacks combine for 2 or more TD passes?

Jeff: 37%. Three (or more) touchdowns for the offense would be great Saturday. Odds are good that if we get to that mark, at least two of those touchdowns will be on the ground.

Brian: Considering the fact that BC has yet to throw 2 passing touchdowns in a game vs. Clemson since joining the ACC, the chances here aren't very likely. Even QB Matt Ryan couldn't seem to accomplish this feat. In 2006, a young Matt Ryan didn't throw for more than one touchdown against the Clemson defense in a 34-33 double OT victory. In 2007, Ryan again only threw one touchdown (it may have only been one TD, but it was a huge one!) in the Eagles 20-17 victory. You have to all the way back to 1983 to find a time when the Eagles QBs were able to throw for more than one touchdown against the Tigers. In that game, Doug Flutie was 20-36 for 223 yards and two touchdowns in a 31-16 come-from-behind Eagles victory. Given that both Shinskie and Tuggle are still very green under center, the chances of this happening are indeed very low. I'll agree with you in that a majority of the Eagles touchdowns on Saturday will come on the ground and now through the air. I'll go as low as 10%.

Chances Steve Aponavicius is still perfect on the year after the Clemson game?

Brian: In the span of two games against Clemson, Steve Aponavicius has gone from hero to goat in a little under a year. In 2007, Aponavicius went 2-for-2 on field goal tries of 30 and 40 yards in an Eagles 20-17 victory. Last year, however, Aponavicius missed both field goal attempts from 21 and 37 in last year's 27-21 loss to the Tigers. While Aponavicius has converted all three field goal attempts on the season - FGs of 24, 24 and 33 - the Eagles will have to rely on Aponavicius's leg to keep the Eagles in this game. Clemson's defense will probably be one of the best defenses we will face all season and field position will be at a premium on Saturday. As a result, I really hope the coaching staff doesn't keep Aponavicius off the field if the Eagles are in field goal range. Because I expect to see a lot of Aponavicius on Saturday, I will go fairly low on this one. 50%.

Jeff: I think the BC coaching staff has learned when and when not to use Aponavicius over the last few years while he has also developed a slightly stronger and more accurate leg. I like his chances to stay perfect in this game because the only time Spaziani is going to send him our for a field goal longer than 40 yards is in a situation at the end of either half or if we face fourth and really long. Last week, the announcers overpraised Aponavicius. But at the same time, he has looked like he might be pretty reliable for us this year from the correct distances. 85%.

Last one, chances BC wins this Saturday in Death Valley?

Jeff: I predicted a win for the Eagles before the season began and the Eagles have looked better than expected thus far. Clemson meanwhile played one inspired quarter of football against Georgia Tech where they could have hung with and beaten any team in the nation. Everyone is now saying that if Clemson plays the way they did in the second half of the Georgia Tech game, Boston College has no chance. The funny thing is though that there is no chance that Clemson or any team plays with that much heart and energy for a full 60 minutes. For a while most players on the team refused to be blocked by Georgia Tech players. The Eagles are more likely to match that intensity than Georgia Tech was with a large lead entering the second half on Thursday night. I'm sticking with my original prediction that BC will win, but I can't give them any better than 60%.

Brian: 60%?! You are giving the Eagles running backs only a 20% chance of going over 100 yards and Eagles QBs only a 37% chance of throwing for 2 or more touchdowns. Where are all these Eagle points going to come from? Your math doesn't seem to add up, sir. Don't get me wrong. I have no doubt that the Eagles can hang with the Tigers. However, with Clemson having plenty of offensive weapons, an offensive line that has improved from last year, and a strong defense ... not to mention the game being in one of the ACC's most hostile environments, I can't go any higher than 39% in this one. Overall, I like what I've seen from the Eagles and wouldn't be surprised if they pull off the upset. Here's to hoping the Eagles prove me wrong on Saturday.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Look At How Our Opponents Fared: Week 2

On the surface, it's easy to say the ACC rebounded from the week 1 debacle by notching a 8-1 record in week 2. Upon closer inspection, however, not every one of our 2009 opponents' stock rose in week 2. Here’s a look at the how our 2009 opponents fared in week 2.

Stock Rising

Central Michigan 29, Michigan State 27. With this win, hopefully the Chippewas got their one BCS team upset of the year out of their system. Michigan State played just enough undisciplined football to give Dan LeFevour and the Chippewas enough of a window of opportunity to win this game. Chippewa kicker Andrew Aguila had the game of his life. After Central Michigan scored what would have been the game-tying touchdown with 32 seconds left, the Chippewas went for the 2 point conversion and the win. The LeFevour pass into the end zone was caught but was ruled out of bounds. On the ensuing kickoff, Aguila kicked a beautiful onside kick that was recovered by the Chippewas. LeFevour then drove CMU 27 yards on three passes to set up the game-winning field goal. The 47-yard attempt was pushed, but Michigan State gave Central Michigan a second chance with a costly, costly offside penalty. Aguila took the second chance from five yards closer and booted it through for the game-winner in East Lansing. LeFevour finished the game passing for 328 yards, 3 touchdowns and one interception on 33 of 46 passing. LeFevour passes Byron Leftwich for most yards of total offense in MAC history. Central Michigan has one more tune-up game next week before starting MAC play.

Virginia Tech 52, Marshall 10. The Hokies rebound from their week 1 loss to Alabama by crushing the Herd 52-10 in front of a sold-out Lane Stadium crowd. The Hokies offense - non-existent in week 1 - exploded for 605 yards of total offense, including two Hokie running backs rushing for over 160 yards each for the first time in school history. Freshman tailback Ryan Williams finished with 164 yards on 16 carries and chipped in 3 touchdowns, while fellow freshman David Wilson rushed for 165 yards on 12 carries and a TD. Tyrod Taylor started slow, but finished the game with 161 yards passing, 2 touchdowns and an interception. Virginia Tech could have definitely used the breather as they have a tough two game stretch ahead as they host #19 Nebraska this week and #20 Miami (Fla.) the following week.

Wake Forest 24, Stanford 17. The Deacons needed yet another fourth quarter comeback from quarterback Riley Skinner to put away the improved Stanford Cardinal 24-17 on Saturday. The Demon Deacons went into the fourth quarter trailing 17-10, and Skinner engineered two touchdown drives including a 91-yard fourth quarter drive. That drive ended with Skinner diving into the endzone with 2 seconds remaining to give the Deacons their first win on the season. Wake Forest scored all three of their touchdowns in the second half, and the Deacs have scored 35 of their 45 points this season in the second half. Skinner finished the day 18-of-26, 187 yards, and 1 touchdown passing and 1 rushing. The Deacons have what should be a warm-up game this Saturday against Elon before traveling to Chestnut Hill to face the Eagles.

Georgia Tech 30, Clemson 27. Yes, the Tigers lost this one but we'll throw this game into the "stock rising" category as Clemson was one disastrous quarter away from knocking off a ranked opponent on the road. The Tigers were embarrassed early and quickly found themselves in a 24-0 hole on three huge plays - an 82-yard option run, an 85-yard punt return and fake field goal touchdown pass. Clemson came out hungry in the second half, however, and rallied to score 27 unanswered points to take a 3 point lead in the fourth quarter. Redshirt freshman Kyle Parker threw for 261 yards, 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in the losing effort. Offensive playmakers C.J. Spiller (20 rushes, 87 yards) and Jacoby Ford (5 catches, 109 yards, TD) also dazzled for the Tigers. Ford caught a 77 yard TD pass from Parker, the longest catch of his career. Despite the loss, Dabo Swinney is convinced this team is improving. “We are a better team today than were last week.”

NC State 65, Murray State 7. The Wolfpack found some offense against an outmatched Murray State Racers squad, jumping out to a 21-0 first quarter lead en route to a 65-7 beatdown. Russell Wilson threw for 228 yards and 4 touchdowns, and running back Toney Baker accounted for 3 touchdowns (2 rushing, 1 receiving) and 74 yards on the ground. It was the most points ever scored by a Tom O'Brien-coached team, including his 10 years at Boston College. NC State will sleepwalk through one more week as they play Gardner-Webb at home before facing Pittsburgh (again, at home) to round out the non-conference schedule.

Stock Falling

Michigan 38, Notre Dame 34. The Irish had two things going against them in week 2. 1) I picked them in our Pick 5 challenge (I do what I can) and for the double whammy, 2) the Notre Dame blog Subway Domer put the Coulter-Kos blogpoll curse on the Irish for ranking the Irish higher than the poll at large in week 1. Note to BC bloggers: the Coulter-Kos is now 2-for-2 in claiming its victims.

Don't let this final score fool you though. While the Irish's BCS National Championship game hopes may have evaporated last week in Ann Arbor (due to some poor offensive playcalls by Weis?), this is still a very strong, very talented Irish team. Jimmy Clausen threw for 336 yards and 3 touchdowns on 25 of 42 passing. His final stat line was certainly helped by two very talented receivers in Michael Floyd (131 yards, 1 TD) and Golden Tate (115 yards, 2 TDs).

North Carolina 12, Connecticut 10. In what has to be the strangest final score of the early college football season, North Carolina knocked off UConn at Rentschler Field 12-10 on Saturday. The Tar Heels scored 12 unanswered second half points, including a bizarre safety with 1:32 to go when Connecticut LT Dan Ryan held UNC DE Robert Quinn in the end zone. If you can take anything away from this game, it's that the Tar Heels defense should be one of the better defenses in the conference this season. The offense, however, left something to be desired for much of Saturday's game. The running game was non-existent (35 yards on 38 rushes), and T.J. Yates threw 2 interceptions and was sacked 6 times in the first half. Yates finished with over 200 yards passing, but that number included two fourth quarter drives of approximately 75 yards. A concern for the Heels is a very thin offensive line, where two starters are currently out.

TCU 30, Virginia 14. The "Fire Al Groh" chants continue in Charlottesville. TCU started their season winning the first game of their two game set against ACC opponents, defeating UVA 30-14 on Saturday. There will certainly be growing pains when you change a program's offensive scheme, but the Cavaliers offense has seemed to find even more ways to suck. Sewell didn't manage a completion of over 8 yards until the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers offense managed only 177 yards and 7 ... 7 first downs all game. If there is any good news to come out of 'Hooville, it's that Groh and UVA have finally decided on a starting quarterback.

Florida State 19, Jacksonville State 9. The Seminoles weren't motivated to play in this game, and needed two touchdowns in the last 35 seconds to avoid arguably the worst loss in school history. Andrew Carter writes "The Seminoles appeared lost offensively, inept on special teams and were only in the game because their defense bent, but did not completely break." The lack of motivation, in my opinion, is the most egregious of Seminole offenses and reflects poorly on the coaching staff. The shame in it all is that this is a talented Seminoles team that could very easily start the season 1-3 if they don't get motivated, and motivated in a hurry.

Maryland 38, James Madison 35 (OT). Not going to waste many words on this one. Maryland needed overtime to take out I-AA James Madison. The Terps avoided becoming the third ACC team to lose to a CAA team from the Football Bowl Subdivision. To be fair, James Madison is more Richmond/William & Mary than they are Northeastern, but this Terps win was ugly. Maryland blew a 15 point second half lead and sealed the victory in overtime with a 26-yard field goal from true freshman Nick Ferrara. MTSU and Rutgers come to College Park over the next two weeks before Maryland starts ACC play at Clemson on October 3.

Headlines: New England College Football's Second Son Doesn't Have a Rival

Brian: NESN’s Rob Lunn wrote a column on Saturday lamenting the lack of a rival for UConn football. But who does he think UConn's rival should be?
"UConn's rival
The obvious answer is Boston College, but the Eagles jumped to the ACC and now find themselves playing 95 percent of their schedule south of the Mason-Dixon Line. (Recruits take notice, if you wanna play big-time college football in New England, stick to UConn.) So where does that leave us? With few options, besides a strongly worded letter to BC."

As a UConn grad and former member of the Huskies football team, Lunn is certainly not an unbiased columnist. Who are we kidding? We aren't either.

First beef with this: Boston College actually plays two-thirds of their schedule north of the Mason-Dixon line (with seven home games and future non-conference road games against Notre Dame, Syracuse, Northwestern, to name a few). Do recruits really take notice? Would New England college football recruits really choose to play at UConn over Boston College? I know the Atlantic Coast Conference's football reputation has been through the ringer the past few years, but ACC football and Big East football shouldn’t even be in the same conversation right now. Your thoughts?

Jeff: Recruits take notice of a lot of things including opportunities to play in front of large national television audiences. I'm going to guess that last year's Music City Bowl, the ACC Championship Game vs. Virginia Tech and the night game at Florida State all drew higher numbers than UConn biggest game by a large margin. UConn football can not touch Boston College right now and this is just a biased, jealous columnist writing.

Also note that UConn goes on its fair share of road trips for football including South Florida, Cincinnati, and Louisville in conference. When the Big East replaced Boston College, Virginia Tech and Miami (Fla.) they broadened their own geographical umbrella by adding those schools.

Brian: I don’t understand the sour grapes here. Does UConn even need a rival? Note the recent rises of football programs like Boise State and South Florida. As they have moved up the I-A ladder, they have done so largely without a traditional college football rival. Maybe Boise State-Fresno State and South Florida-Central Florida could be considered rivals, but both of those rivalries have the feel of a big brother-little brother relationship rather than a true rivalry. In your opinion, who should UConn’s rivalry truly be?

Jeff: Ohio State has Michigan. Florida State has Miami (Fla.). USC has UCLA. But not everyone college football program has a major rival, and that list of programs without a major rival includes Boston College.

Boise State doesn't have a rival? I would guess that if you asked people at the University of Idaho, they would tell you differently. Mark Schlereth - former Idaho Vandals and NFL player turned ESPN football analyst - was just saying the other day how much he hated Boise State. He said the Boise State-Idaho rivalry was stronger than any he experienced in the NFL.

To get back to your question though, just like I've been saying as long as we've been blogging, Boston College should play UConn annually at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro. BC should still be UConn's rival.

Brian: You are joking, right? Boise State and Idaho as rivals? While the all-time series between the two school has been close – 20-17-1 in favor of Boise State – I can’t consider a series a rivalry when one team has beaten the other 10 times in a row going back to 1999.

Getting back to the question about UConn’s natural rival, it simply cannot and will not be Boston College (despite whiny columns like this one). Lunn talks about a rivalry having either proximity or history. In my opinion, though, you need a little of A and a little of B. While BC and UConn are close geographically, they have absolutely no history whatsoever. The all-time series is 10-0-2 in favor of Boston College. I’ll go ahead and use Lunn's argument against a UMass-UConn rivalry for the argument against a BC-UConn rivalry.

"UConn is making it ways up the D-I ranks, and if Michigan-Appalachian State has taught us anything, losing a game to a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as Division I-AA) powerhouse makes this potential series lose-lose."

This is the same feeling I have about playing Connecticut. It is simply a lose-lose proposition for Boston College. Why would we want to strengthen a fledgling I-A football program in our own backyard? There is simply too much bad blood between the two programs from the Eagles' move from the Big East to the ACC.

The natural rival of UConn is Rutgers. The two programs are very similar, and enjoy close geographic proximity now in the expanded geographic footprint of the Big East. They are both big state schools that have been historically insignificant in big time college football. I wish the Huskies would simply quit whining, look down I-95 and embrace their true college football rival: Rutgers.

Jeff: A rivalry is something that cannot be forced and is determined by the players and fans associated with both programs. I really don't care who the rivals of Boise State or UConn truly are. I'm just relaying what I heard and pointing out that you are wrong. By your logic, Boston College and Notre Dame are no longer rivals either. The all-time series between the Eagles and Irish is close but recently has been one-sided.

Brian: I wouldn't necessarily disagree with your last statement either. That is probably why Notre Dame is willing to end the Boston College series after 2010. Those associated with the Irish program don't like to throw around the 'R' word when talking about BC.

BCDraft's Interview with Steve Conroy

BCDraft interviews the Boston Herald's Steve Conroy today. Be sure to check out their interview. Conroy and the Draft guys talk Eagles, the Boston media, quarterbacks, the GDF guide to football scheduling and revised expectations for the 2009 season. Even though SC's favorite BC blog isn't BC Interruption, we'll set that fact aside and still tell you to go have a read.

So When Did the ACC Atlantic Become the Big XII North?

Jeff: With the announcement yesterday that the Wake Forest game will not be picked up by Raycom or an ESPN network, we're forced to wonder: will any BC games get a big spotlight like an ABC 3:30 or ESPN night game. Unfortunately, the answer is probably not, at least not the home games.

Now if North Carolina or NC State are ranked when the Eagles play them and BC has 1 or fewer losses, that may all change (but that is obviously unlikely). But BC may win the Atlantic Division this year ... how can that be?

Well, I've realized that the ACC Atlantic Division more resembles the Big XII North of the past few years. While Big XII football is very good, all the powerhouses are in the South Division and whoever wins the North is sure to annually be a big underdog in the Big XII Championship Game. Nationally, their has been little-to-no interest in games involving two Big XII North opponents the last few years with the exception of Kansas-Missouri two years ago. Sadly, this will be the same for the ACC Atlantic this year. Throughout the season, some Atlantic Division programs may be ranked (be it Boston College, Florida State, Clemson or NC State), but nationally they will not get any interest because of the offseason and their showing in the first couple weeks of this season. Meanwhile, whichever ACC Coastal team emerges (be it North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech or Miami (Fla.)) will be heavily favored in the ACC Championship Game.

How many other times after the second week of the season have we been able to say that the Boston College-Florida State game has no chance of hosting ESPN's College Game Day? Not to mention the chances of getting any prime time games - especially at home - are slim without being thrown the "ESPNU 7pm game" bone. Looking back at my lack of interest in the Big XII North the past few seasons, I don't blame ESPN one bit.

Brian: It is still way too early to call the ACC Atlantic the Big XII North. To be fair, the ACC Atlantic will never be the Big XII North so long as Florida State and NC State are members of the Atlantic Division. The fact that Boston College vs. Wake Forest isn't on national television can be attributed to a few key facts about the September 26 game lineup.

For one, the two big heavyweight ACC matchups of the week happens to be the Coastal Division matchups between Miami (Fla.)-Virginia Tech (picked up by ESPN/ABC) and North Carolina-Georgia Tech (picked up by Raycom). After those two games are scooped up by TV, two of the biggest ACC schools left on the board – Florida State and NC State – happen to play non-conference games both against Big East opponents. As these schools will be two of the better remaining television draws, they get placed on ESPNU. That leaves Rutgers at Maryland, Wake Forest at Boston College, and TCU at Clemson for

Does it suck that the one Atlantic Division matchup of the weekend is being overshadowed by two Coastal Division matchups? Sure, but those four Coastal programs may all be ranked Top 25 nationally next week. Do TCU and Clemson have a gripe for not being placed on national TV? Definitely. At the end of the day, though, it's all about ranked opponents, compelling matchups and TV ratings. By the un-luck of the draw this week, BC's game against Wake Forest will be relegated to the internet.

Simply, it all depends on the ACC college football lineup from week to week. There is still a good chance that Florida State vs. BC will be the late afternoon game or a night game on the weekend of October 3. The only better matchup that weekend is Oklahoma at Miami (Fla.) which will likely be picked up by ESPN/ABC in primetime.

Jeff: Not if Florida State loses to BYU as you predict and everyone expects.

Brian: Maybe so. But if BC doesn't benefit from any primetime or nationally televised ACC games this season, there will definitely be Atlantic Division matchups that get the national TV nod over Coastal matchups. It just so happens that the best Coastal Division matchups this season all happen in the first six weeks of the year, while many of the heavyweight Atlantic matchups not involving the Eagles (Florida State-Clemson, Florida State-NC State, Clemson-NC State) fall later in the year.

And lest I forget the number one reason why the Atlantic Division will remain relevant when it comes to TV rights and scheduling: Duke and Virginia are still on the other side. The fact that the four best Coastal teams face off against one another next weekend happened to be a perfect storm of bad luck for BC, Wake Forest, TCU and Clemson.

While I don't agree that the Atlantic has become the Big XII North, there is still the possibility that the Coastal closely resembles last year's Big XII South ... at least when it comes to the final division standings.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Preliminary Blogpoll: Week 2

The season is still very young, so take this ballot with a grain of salt.

Let us know what you think in the comments section.

1Florida (2-0)
2Texas (2-0)
3Southern Cal (2-0) 1
4Alabama (2-0) 1
5Mississippi (1-0) 2
6Penn State (2-0)
7California (2-0) 1
8Brigham Young (2-0) 1
9LSU (2-0) 1
10Virginia Tech (1-1) 2
11Georgia Tech (2-0) 4
12Miami (Florida) (1-0) 2
13Oklahoma (1-1) 2
14TCU (1-0) 4
15Cincinnati (2-0) 7
16Boise State (2-0) 1
17Nebraska (2-0) 2
18Ohio State (1-1) 6
19Kansas (2-0) 7
20Utah (2-0) 5
21Missouri (2-0)
22Pittsburgh (2-0) 1
23Houston (2-0) 3
24Oklahoma State (1-1) 19
25Clemson (1-1) 9

For your reference, here is last week's ballot.

Dropped Out: Michigan State (#13), Georgia (#20).

Welcome! Kansas (#19), Houston (#23).

Waiting Room: North Carolina, Oregon State, Texas Tech, Michigan, South Florida

By Conference: Big XII 6, Atlantic Coast 4, Southeastern 4, Mountain West 3, Big East 2, Big Ten 2, Pac-10 2, Conference USA 1, WAC 1

Teams We Disagree On The Most: Boise State (11.31), Ohio State (8.49), LSU (6.36), Kansas (4.95)

Teams We Agree On: Florida (#1), Texas (#2), Southern Cal (#3), Cincinnati (#15)

Games Brian Watched:

Clemson at Georgia Tech
Colorado at Toledo
Notre Dame at Michigan
Southern Cal at Ohio State

Game Jeff Watched:

Clemson at Georgia Tech
Kent State at Boston College
South Carolina at Georgia
Notre Dame at Michigan (75%)
Colorado at Toledo (50%)
Southern Cal at Ohio State (25%)
Central Michigan at Michigan State (25%)
Fresno State at Wisconsin (25%)
Houston at Oklahoma State (25%)

Headlines: Wake Forest Game Kickoff Set For 2pm

Boston College's home game against Wake Forest will start at 2pm and be shown on Plan accordingly.

Rest of the ACC's week 4 schedule after the jump.

Saturday, Sept. 26
North Carolina at Georgia Tech, RAYCOM, noon
South Florida at Florida State, ESPNU, noon
TCU at Clemson,, 1 pm
Wake Forest at Boston College,, 2 pm
Miami at Virginia Tech, ABC/ESPN*, 3:30 pm
Pittsburgh at NC State, ESPNU, 3:30 pm
Rutgers at Maryland,, 3:30 pm
North Carolina Central at Duke, 7 pm

* Game televised regionally on ABC and shown to other parts of the country on ESPN.

Boston College +7 @ Clemson

Boston College +7 @ Clemson

The Eagles open as 7 point underdogs for this weekend's ACC opener at Clemson.

Elsewhere around the ACC Atlantic, Florida State is a 7 point underdog at BYU, and Maryland is only a 5.5 point favorite at home against Middle Tennessee State (a team that knocked off Maryland last year). Ouch.

Headlines: Another Win, A Quarterback Emerges? and League Disappointments

Brian: The Eagles rolled again on Saturday, defeating Kent State 34-7, to go to 2-0 on the season. Boston College used a pair of touchdown passes from Shinskie and Tuggle, a Montel Harris touchdown run and a Steve Aponavicius field goal to mount a 24-0 halftime lead. The only thing in doubt in this game was preserving the shutout, which was lost when Kent State backup Spencer Keither completed a four yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Simpson with a little over 2 minutes to play for the only Kent State points on the day.

The Eagles narrowly missed recording back-to-back shutouts to start the season since 1933.

We turn first to the Eagles quarterback competition, where both Tuggle and Shinskie each split time under center in the first half. Tuggle finished the game with 150 yards and 2 touchdowns on 6-of-12 passing, while Shinskie finished 9-of-16 for 73 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Jeff, who was the more impressive starting quarterback candidate on Saturday?

Jeff: Justin Tuggle certainly had the more impressive numbers on Saturday. Tuggle went 6 of 12 passing for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns while Shinskie only threw for 78 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Watching this game, the difference between the two was not as great because I felt Tuggle wound up in some better situations. The running game seemed to be working a little better for Tuggle than for Shinskie. Shinskie didn't look terrible but the one interception was a very poor decision.

Overall, it seemed like Kent State got more pressure on Shinskie and the nice plays were made by receivers when Tuggle was in the ballgame. Shinskie throws a nicer-looking ball but Tuggle seems much more accurate and definitely has a stronger arm than Shinskie has.

I was happy with what I saw from both quarterbacks and would take either over week 2 Chris Crane from a year ago.

Brian: Word from Spaz and the Eagles camp is that a decision may come down by mid-week, however, the differences between the two quarterbacks in the eyes of Coach Spaziani were minimal.
"We’re still evaluating," said Spaziani. “Both of them ran the game well, both made some plays. There’s not a great deal of separation. But you have to reach a point where you just have to take some of that information and move on."

Spaziani said he will make a decision by the middle of the week - although he is not sure if he will announce it - and either Tuggle or Shinskie will receive most of the snaps in practice from that point on.

Which was the more impressive win? The Northeastern win or the Kent State win?

Jeff: Kent State was far more impressive than Northeastern. Not only had Kent State won the week before, but their defense actually made BC work and we couldn't just run all over them like we could Northeastern.

Brian: Looking around the league, what ACC result was the most surprising in week 2?

Jeff: I would have to say that Florida State struggling with Jacksonville State was the most surprising ACC result of week 2. Otherwise, all the ACC teams that were favored to win won. Virginia was a big underdog to TCU at home and that game turned out as expected.

Brian: I would have to agree with you. Reading up on this game, it sounds as if Florida State was not motivated at all for this game. The Seminoles scored twice in the last 35 seconds of the fourth quarter to win by 10 and avoid yet another ACC upset at the hands of an FCS opponent. You have to wonder who is running this team at this point - either Bobby Bowden and coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher. The head coach needs to have their team motivated to play every Saturday, and I'm starting to wonder how beneficial these coach-in-waiting situations really are for a program. Over the past two weeks, we have seen both Maryland and Florida State struggle to get wins against FCS teams after losing in week 1.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Grounding the Flashes and the Big Finish

Brian: On Saturday, the Kent State Golden Flashes come to Alumni Stadium led by running back/return man Eugene Jarvis. Last week, Jarvis ran the ball for 141 yards on 27 carries in an 18-0 win over Coastal Carolina. He also caught 3 passes for 30 yards and scored a touchdown. Oh yeah, and he only added another 94 yards in kick returns for a total of 265 all-purpose yards in Kent State's week 1 victory. Will this young Eagles team be able to neutralize the big play threat of Jarvis tomorrow?

Jeff: Absolutely. No offense to Jarvis, but he is the one threat the Eagles have to worry about and I'm sure they'll be playing the run first all day leaving our experienced secondary in single coverage. If Jarvis does get a big play, it will likely be on special teams.

Brian: I agree the Eagles will likely build their defensive playbook around stopping Eugene Jarvis first and foremost. Kent State is also breaking in a new quarterback under center and his numbers were underwhelming in week one. Last week, Giorgio Morgan threw for 21 of 35 passing, 201 yards and 2 interceptions. Will it help the Eagles' young defense to scheme for stopping Eugene Jarvis, as we will have to key in on stopping another electric running back/return man next week in C.J. Spiller?

Jeff: I don't think there are enough similarities between Kent State and Clemson for this game against Kent State tomorrow to help us really prepare for a legit ACC offense and one of the top RBs in the country in CJ Spiller. On Thursday night the Tigers lost to Georgia Tech, but remember that Parker looked pretty solid and put up real impressive numbers in the second half.

Brian: Steve Conroy of the Herald reports that while the Eagles did beat Northeastern 54-0, the offensive line still has a long way to go:
"We’ve still got a long way to go," said center and tri-captain Matt Tennant. "Everyone is not really meshing the way I or (offensive line coach Sean) Devine wants. We’re not working together on our double teams, we’re not fitting the exact way we want, and I think that’s just a time thing. As the season progresses, our fits will get better, our pass blocking will get better and then everything will come together."
Will we see improvement in the offensive line this week, especially with the return of Rich Lapham?

Jeff: I wouldn't be surprised if we saw improvement out of nearly every unit of this team every week for the entire season. This team probably has the talent and skills to be very successful in the ACC, but just lacks experience in some key areas. I am confident that this team will work hard and show lots of improvement barring any major injuries.

Brian: The weather forecast for tomorrow calls for cloudy skies with occasional rain showers. High around 65 degrees. Will the rain help slow down Eugene Jarvis and the Golden Flash offense? Or will the weather conditions encourage even more of a ground attack from both the Flashes and the Eagles? Who has the advantage here?

Jeff: C'mon. It's Kent State. BC is favored by 21. We could play them in a dome or in a blizzard and BC would come out on top regardless.

Big Finish

Jeff: Great news for the Eagles. BC linebacker Mike McLaughlin rejoined the team and was practicing Wednesday for the first time since March. When do you expect McLaughlin to return?

Brian: I don't want him to rush his return to the field, but I'm cautiously optimistic he'll be back in the lineup for the Florida State game.

Brian: Boston College has 20 pros in the NFL this year, good for 8th best in the ACC. What, if anything, stands out to you from that list?

Jeff: Maybe that Maryland has more than us but it's only 4 more. No surprise Miami tops the list.

Jeff: BC still has two quarterbacks this weekend and will rotate in David Shinskie and Justin Tuggle. Will a starter emerge this week in time for the Clemson game?

Brian: I hope so. I will feel much less confident about our trip to Death Valley if a starter doesn't emerge this week and Spaz continues to play both guys.

Brian: The Emerald Bowl renewed their affiliation with the Pac-10 through the 2013 season but the conference will not be playing an ACC team. Instead, the Pac-10 will face a WAC team, Navy or Army. Your thoughts?

Jeff: Interesting how Army is going in 2011 if eligible and Navy in 2012. Not disappointed the ACC is out though because I like to drive to bowl games.

Jeff: I heard this on the radio yesterday. Kent State has the second worst all-time winning percentage in Division I-A behind Florida International. Guess who's third on that list? (Hint: It's an ACC team).

Brian: Everyone's gut reaction is to say Duke but they were really good back in the day. So I'll guess Wake Forest. Second guess would be NC State.

Jeff: Wake Forest is correct.

Brian: Get this. Albert Louis-Jean of Brockton is 15 years old and already has an offer from Boston College. Too soon?

Jeff: He's only 15 but he is a junior in High School so it's all good.

Jeff: Clemson and Georgia Tech looked a little sloppy last night. Clemson had two deadly mistakes on special teams, while Georgia Tech QB Josh Nesbitt completed only 36% of his passes and threw 2 picks. Still not in favor of preseason scrimmages?

Brian: Absolutely not. Both teams looked sloppy last week too - Georgia Tech had 5 fumbled and Clemson backup QB Willy Korn had two turnovers. How many preseason scrimmages would be needed to work out the kinks? If I'm told we can't have an NFL-style postseason, then college football shouldn't have an NFL-style preseason either.

Brian: Last one, final score prediction time. HD predicts the Eagles win 31-10. ATL has the Eagles as 28-10 winners. You gonna be a man and take the Eagles to cover the -20.5 point spread?

Jeff: Absolutely. I think we'll score more than either predict.

Pick 5

Brian: For the second straight year, I start the season 5-0. **Pats self on back**. And who says that picking lines preseason is difficult? You can follow our Pick 5 standings throughout the year on the left sidebar.

For my week 1 victory, I have honors and get to choose first.
  • Kent State at Boston College (-20.5)
  • Syracuse (+29) at Penn State
  • UCLA at Tennessee (-10)
  • North Carolina (-4) at Connecticut
  • Notre Dame (-3) at Michigan

  • USC (-7) at Ohio State
  • Central Michigan at Michigan State (-14.5)
  • Troy at Florida (-36.5)
  • Houston at Oklahoma State (-15)
  • Louisiana Tech at Navy (-7.5)

Enjoy all the college football this weekend. Go Eagles!