Back in the shadows for BC

So now it is over. The television trucks will head to other venues. The crowds and the interest level will shrink considerably and Boston College football can again return to what it has been for the past several years–a fringe player in terms of national attention.

Upset? Dejavu all over again for an unbeaten Notre  Dame team when it faced Boston College?  Sorry folks. Not this time, which is why Saturday night’s 21-6 victory by the Irish will be duly noted as one small part of a season-long profile which still could carry ND to a spot in the BCS title game  in Miami in January.

Oh, it was fun for a while on Saturday night at Alumni Stadium. Big time stuff. Brent and Herbie and ABC were watching from the press box. Fireworks before the game–rather than during or after the game and a setting which suggested that on a day when No. 1 Alabama had been beaten by Texas A&M, more chopping of the unbeaten, top-tiered teams was possible, if not probable. Sellout (first and last of the year) crowd who actually showed up at kick off.

BC came into its game against Notre Dame with an abysmal 2-7 record and very little on its list of accomplishments to suggest that an upset of the 9-0 and No. 4 ranked Irish was even a possibility. They left with a 2-8 record, adding another chapter of frustration to the tale of this year’s season.

Still, this was Notre Dame AND BC and there was a history of strange things happening to unbeaten Irish teams when it faced the Eagles.  In 1993 and in 2002, Notre Dame fans saw their hopes of winning a national championship disappear after a loss to BC.

Going into the game, there was little to suggest that this edition of BC football could come up with that kind of magic. All BC really had going for it was a sense of history.

Throwing the Alabama loss into the formula didn’t hurt since it at least put the idea of an upset in the minds of both BC and Notre Dame.

Embattled BC coach Frank Spaziani, almost certainly down to his final two games at BC, could have used it in his “anything is possible” pre-game speech to the Eagles.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, who is now 2 games away–Wake Forest and USC– from an unbeaten regular season,certainly reminded his team that nothing could be taken for granted after Alabama’s loss rattled the rankings and all but eliminated one of ND’s prime challengers for a spot in the BCS title game.

Not that the Irish needed any reminders after surviving a triple overtime win last week over a Pittsburgh team that proceeded to lose to a mediocre UConn team this week. On any given Saturday night, anything is possible.

The Irish weren’t spectacular on offense or defense. But they were efficient. No where was that more evident than in a stunning 10 of 10 third down conversion ratio against BC in building up a 21-3 lead over the Eagles.

Was this BC’s worst effort of  a season which has only games remaining against Virginia Tech and North Carolina State? Hardly. Notre Dame could only manage a 7-3 lead after one-quarter, a 14-3 lead at halftime. BC made the Irish work for everything.

“BC played very well tonight offensively,” said Kelly. “I think they ran every play imaginable.”

The Irish handled most, if not all , of them.

Even when the Irish opened the 3rd quarter with a text-book 9 play 65 yard drive to make it 21-3, there was still a glimmer of hope that BC could put together one drive that would flip the momentum back towards BC.

But that never happens any more at BC against good teams. The last ranked team to lose to the Eagles was Florida State in 2008.  Notre Dame was the 8th consecutive ranked opponent to beat BC.

This season, the Eagles wins have come against Maine and Maryland, hardly an ego boosting combination of opponents. BC has lost to good teams (FSU. Clemson and Notre Dame).They have lost to bad teams (Army and Wake Forest). They have lost to average teams (Northwestern, Miami and Georgia Tech).

All of it is wearing the Eagles down to the point where they might indeed be looking for the end of the season, rather than their next game.

“It’s been the same story all year,” said BC quarterback Chase Rettig, who without a running game (53 net yards) was forced to throw the ball 43 times, while being sacked 4 times and harassed almost every time he dropped back. “I’d rather  win.”

Winning will become even harder the next few weeks since wide receiver Bobby Swiggert is probably out for the season with a major knee injury and middle linebacker Nick Clancy is out at least temporarily after suffering a concussion in the first quarter.

Defensively, the frustration was even more evident. Although the Eagles came up with enough stops to keep the game competitive well into the second half, they didn’t make stops when they needed to make stops.

No where was that more evident than the 11 of 14 third down conversion attempts  by ND, including a perfect 10 of 10 at the start. “We get them third and long and we can’t get them off the field,” said BC linebacker Steele Divitto. “That’s something that we have struggled with this year.”

More than anything, it has been the thing that has killed BC’s chances each week.

Spaziani, with a defensive pedigree,  knows that as much as anyone. “You have to play good defense to win,” said Spaziani. “”And you certainly have to play good third down defense. We have to make some plays.”

In the end,on the biggest stage the Eagles have played upon all season in terms of national exposure, BC didn’t make enough plays.

Watching all of this with more than a casual eye was new BC athletic director Brad Bates who will determine the process for what comes next with Spaziani and BC football.

As the clock was winding down on Saturday night, Bates stood in a corner of Alumni Stadium, watching another Eagle loss being finalized.  As the assistant coaches and the players ran off the field, Bates remained quiet and expression-less.

There wasn’t really much to say really. At least not now, not yet. But that will soon change  as the season from hell at BC winds its way to a crash landing.

© 2012, Mark. All rights reserved.

  5 comments for “Back in the shadows for BC

  1. MaroonNGold
    November 11, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Said it before, and will once again.

    WHOLESALE changes needed @ alma mater, including a new administration, scrapping the donor based seating, a campaign to convince the world that we are honorable, convincing alums that the school actually cares about THEIR well being. Then, the more minor changes that would set a good tone are returning the old logo with the interlocking maroon and gold BC(without the hideous black in any logo or uniform BC wears), and proving that BC has spirit, as opposed to institutional conceit.

    Sure, maybe Spaz is not an ideal fit – but who would be – and who would come here – given the present administration?

  2. CAG
    November 11, 2012 at 1:26 am

    he’s stealing money from my school. and he’s going to be a greedy asshole and take bc for everything he can instead of doing the honorable thing and retiring. he deserves every last bit of shit he gets. and yes, i’d say that to his face, arrange a meeting

  3. Nathan
    November 11, 2012 at 1:16 am

    The BC community deserved what they are; mediocre.

    This is not bigtime college football. What 4 or 5 star player in their right mind would choose BC over UConn, much less the SEC or ND?

    And Mark, BC did kick another field goal in there, so at least give them the 6, not 3.

  4. Mark's Dad
    November 11, 2012 at 12:57 am


    Thanks for writing about BC. There aren’t enough people that do and with results like this it’s not going to get better.

    There is stuff to be frustrated about with the coaches. But the biggest thing is that the talent deficit with ND is the biggest it has been in decades. Not that ND has the most in the nation–but this roster is full of kids who are going nowhere. It’s almost as if we’ve given up at getting really good players who can contribute meaningfully by they time they are red shirt freshman or sophomores–and leave aside getting any four or five star kids–it’s almost an afterthought at this point. Like some people say, football isn’t about x’s and o’s, it’s about Jimmies and Joes. And our Jimmies and Joes are nice kids, good students and some are even community leaders–but they don’t have the talent to compete in a major conference. The BC community deserves better.

    • Nathan
      November 11, 2012 at 1:23 am

      BC does have a 4 star; Rettig. He was mouthing off to T’eo after completing a garbage time garbage pass. That’s your California 4 star. What BC needs to concentrate on is coaching up the 2 and 3 stars on the lines like they used to. Raji and Brace is the blueprint. A nice 2 star and NR off the radar. Thats BCs bread and butter. With that crap stadium and horrible fans that leave it half empty most nights, you arent getting anyone better.

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