After Saturday’s 22-13 loss against Northwestern, the Boston College Eagles are now 3-10 over the past two seasons against Division 1 opponents.
It was evident that this year’s team had problems following their opening-weekend loss to Miami (Fla.). The defense, a strength in recent seasons, was dreadful in allowing 41 points and 208 rushing yards to the rebuilding Hurricanes. The Eagles also had two crucial fourth-quarter fumbles that put the game out of reach for Chase Rettig and the offense in Week 1.
But a strong performance on the defensive end against Maine (which plays in FCS, the level below D1) gave hope to fans that the D was back on track. BC allowed only three points and 193 total yards against the Black Bears, holding them to three out of 18 on third-down conversions.
As the offense scored 30 points for the second straight game, there was belief that if the team could start getting consistent efforts from their defense, Doug Martin and his new offense would be able to lead BC to a winning year.
Then this weekend happened, and, well, the Eagles are right on the path to another 4-8 season.
The offense that began the year with two consecutive touchdown drives suddenly doesn’t seem so explosive anymore. The final box score says that Chase Rettig passed for nearly 300 yards on 24 completions, but those numbers are misleading. He put up 53 of those yards on a meaningless drive to end the game.
Before that series, Rettig was 19-of-35 for 238 yards and a touchdown. After passing for 441 yards in his first game, Rettig has completed just 40 of his 76 throws over the ensuing two games.
Unfortunately for BC, the passing was the best part of their offense on Saturday.
The Eagles rushed 21 times for 24 yards. That’s not a misprint: they averaged 1.1 yards per carry. RB Rolandan Finch also had a critical fumble on first-and-goal inside the Wildcats 10-yard line.
It doesn’t matter if you have the best QB in the country; you’re not going to win games rushing that ball that poorly. It certainly contributed to the fact that the Eagles were 2-of-11 on third down conversions.
By contrast, Northwestern was 12-of-19. The final score reads 22-13, but the game was not that close: the Eagles defense let up 560 yards. For some context, last season, Oklahoma State (the No. 3 team in the country, which finished second in points scored at 48.7 a game) averaged 545.8 yards a game.
The one bright spot for BC was their red zone defense; Northwestern had to settle for five field goals on the day. But when the D really needed to shut the Wildcats down, they couldn’t. Northwestern got the ball up 15-13 with under three minutes to go, and subsequently ran on each play to eat up the clock.
Even though everyone in the stadium knew they were running, the Eagles still allowed them to pick up 44 yards on four plays for a game-clinching touchdown.
With a bye this weekend for the Eagles, there’s no doubt this loss will linger in their minds. I wish I could say I’m confident in the team as they have double the preparation time for Clemson, but the fact is, they’re playing the No. 10 school in the country. It’s likely the Eagles will be 1-3 when they travel to West Point take on Army on Oct. 6.
Don’t think that game’s an easy win, though: Army’s averaged 384 rushing yards per game this season, as their QB’s only attempted 11 passes. Usually teams are able to defeat such a one-sided offensive attack, but rushing defense is the most prevalent Eagles weakness right now. Army certainly has more than a puncher’s chance in the matchup.
It’s unfortunate that this is where we’ve come to in Boston College football. A team that won eight straight bowl games during the mid 2000s now can barely claw its way to a winning season.
A second year in a row under .500 should spell the end for head coach Frank Spaziani, especially considering BC will soon have a new Athletic Director after Gene DeFilippo decided that he will step down (read: was forced out) on Sept. 30.
Unless Spaz can turn this year around, it sure seems that a new era in BC football (and ultimately BC sports) is coming soon.
Stephen Sikora is a current student at Boston College and a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He also writes about BC Sports at bcheights.com. Follow him @sjsik.